Sisters Laura Segal and Carol Ziecik are tickled Pink — Fund, that is. On Oct. 5, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the two breast cancer survivors are co-chairing the Pink Fund’s signature fundraiser, Dancing with the Survivors, along with Carol’s husband, Mike, at the Shriners Silver Garden Event Center in Southfield.
Segal and Ziecik have been instrumental in chairing the event for the last three years. Dancing with the Survivors pairs breast cancer survivors with pro dancers from Fred Astaire Studio in Bloomfield Hills. Owners Evan and Lada Mountain, who have donated dance lessons, studio time and professional instructors since the event’s inception, work with the breast cancer survivors to put on a spectacular dance showcase. Money raised will go toward short-term, non-medical, cost-of-living financial assistance for breast cancer patients in active treatment.
It was Pink Fund Founder Molly MacDonald who first approached Segal after Segal had been diagnosed in 2012.
“I had been familiar with ballroom dancing for a while, and I was actively involved in the salsa dancing community for many years,” says Segal, a Franklin resident. “Our parents were dancers, and I knew that Carol had the ability — that she had rhythm and appreciation of music. I had to beg her to do it — she was recovering from her treatment and surgeries, but finally agreed.”
Reluctantly to be sure.
“Laura brought me in kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to dance because I had just rolled off the operating table; I had no hair; I was really weak; and I wasn’t feeling good about myself,” said Ziecik, a Bloomfield Hills resident.
After that first year of Dancing with the Survivors, Segal diverted her attention to ice dancing where she is currently working on her bronze level. But Segal will tell you now that “the rest is history” for her sister who, after Ziecik’s Fred Astaire partner left the studio, corralled her husband into taking ballroom dance lessons with her.
“He went to support me, but he had absolutely no interest, and then something clicked,” Ziecik said. “Now I’ve created a total monster. He’s really serious. He’s torn between the golf course and dance floor.”
Since last August, the two have competed separately in seven national competitions, winning many medals including “Top Newcomer Male and Female.” They are now starting to compete together and take several lessons a day. On Oct. 5, Michael will dance a rhumba cha cha with his Fred Astaire partner and Carol will dance the bolero with her Fred Astaire teacher.
“The Pink Fund brought me to the dance, then I brought Mike to the dance and now it’s our recreation. We are very committed and dedicated to dancing. It has done wonders for our relationship as empty-nesters,” says Ziecik about their 27-year marriage. “We have never been healthier or more fit.”
In addition to supporting the Pink Fund, the Segal and Ziecik families have supported Beaumont Hospital’s breast cancer efforts, including helping to educate on the importance of Tomosynthesis 3D Mammography.
“It is very easy to see the financial toxicity of dealing with any kind of cancer. The Pink Fund makes so much sense — you know you are really helping people — this is so much more immediate and gratifying than sending money off for research,” says Segal. “The money goes straight to the creditors — bank, utilities, lease/car payments, etc. You know you are helping people in their time of greatest need and helping them focus on recovering instead of worrying about keeping financial obligations.”
Ziecik added: “Knowledge is power and prevention is everything. Be your own champion and advocate. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, or have a strong familial history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer — on your mother’s or father’s side — please get tested; you have nothing to lose.”
Julie Yolles Special to the Jewish News
Tickets to Dancing with the Survivors are $150 each and include the ballroom dance showcase, entertainment, small plates and cocktails. The Pink Fund’s Dancing with the Survivors begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at Shriners Silver Garden Event Center in Southfield (24350 Southfield Road). People can donate to Carol and Michael Ziecik’s crowdrise.com page and purchase tickets at www.crowdrise.com/Southfield or by calling (248) 229-4668. For more information on the Pink Fund, visit www.ThePinkFund.org.