Eva Miranda Crawford took the stage at Porsche in Valencia in a white flapper dress, perfect for the roaring ’20s glam, past or present, theme.
The lights focused on the stage, illuminating her tears that flowed down her face.
She took a moment to compose herself.
Crawford stood on the stage on Saturday as the thriver event chair for the Santa Clarita METAvivor Met Gala, a living testimony for the importance of metastatic breast cancer research.
She was crying for two reasons – being overwhelmed by the support from the room of hundreds of attendees and being in that room without her friend Amy Steffe Lohmann.
Crawford, a mother of three, was diagnosed in 2018 with MBC at 41 years old.
Metastatic breast cancer is a form of cancer that spreads from the breasts to other parts of the body. For Crawford, her cancer had spread to her spine, hips, liver and her brain.
Dr. Rena Callahan, a member of the UCLA Hematology-Oncology Department and Crawford’s personal doctor, accredits Crawford’s presence, and that of many others living with MBC, to the advances in research and medical technology.
“I firsthand see my patients live longer as a result of these clinical trials,” said Callahan. “I see them go on a bucket list trip or build their lives with love and an ever-expanding family circle.”
These clinical trials have kept Crawford attending the very event she spearheaded.
The METAvivor Met Gala is a fundraising event for METAvivor, a nonprofit organization that funds MBC awareness, technology and, most importantly, research. All of the proceeds from the event go toward the organization.
“Eva was the one who turned me on to the need for funding for metastatic breast cancer research,” said friend and supporter Kristy Lin. “Eva was the one who realized that there was a way right here in the Santa Clarita Valley to raise money for metastatic breast cancer.”
“In the United States alone, 115 individuals die every day due to MBC.”
The hundreds at the event could be seen as a visual representation of how many lives MBC affects.
Santa Clarita Councilman Bill Miranda, who is also the event-cochair and Crawford’s father, took the stage with his wife Virgina. Together they advocated for the importance of research.
“We continue to ask for your prayers because tomorrow is not guaranteed for anybody,” said Bill Miranda.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste and Mayor Jason Gibbs were also in attendance.
The chatter of the room silenced as music played and Crawford took to the stage to not only tell her story, but also Lohmann’s.
“Amy became one of my closest friends and my sister,” Crawford began.
She detailed Lohmann as a woman larger than life, Crawford’s “driving force” and a woman with a rare mutation of breast cancer.
“She was selflessly advocating for this disease because you wouldn’t know she had this disease,” said Crawford.
Lohmann beat the odds and became cancer-free, but wasn’t out of the woods.
“She told us that there’s a 30% chance of her cancer returning,” said Crawford.
Lohmann’s cancer did return, and it took her life on Aug. 14, 2023.
“It’s an invisible disease. She didn’t look sick. I don’t look sick,” said Crawford. “This is a wakeup call. We can’t wait for research.”
Callahan followed Crawford on the stage to assure everyone that progress was being made.
“It’s easy to lose faith in the field of breast cancer,” said Callahan. “Your presence here tonight, be it motivated by a personal experience with a friend, a family member or colleague with metastatic breast cancer, demonstrates that you have faith that we can … make progress together against this disease. None of us would be here that we didn’t believe that progress was possible.”