I attended the Beating Cancer In Heels "Shopping Night Out in NYC and it was such an empowering and beautiful event to be a part of it.
Aside from the gorgeous and intimate set up, I was able to meet all the lovely people who came to support a great cause. HOT 97 sponsored this wonderful night and I'm so glad we were able to be a part of something so special and important.
Bringing awareness to Breast Cancer while enjoying fashion at the same time? I was in the right place!
I got the chance to speak to the founder of Beating Cancer In Heels, Marlena Ortiz, and listened to her incredible story of surviving breast cancer and getting it at such a young age.
(E.S.P.JEN, Marlena Ortiz, Founder of Beating Cancer In Heels)
E.S.P.JEN: Tell us about your organization.
Marlena Ortiz: Beating Cancer in Heels is a non for profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of young women with cancer. So I’m a certified life coach and what I do is give life coaching for women during and after treatments. We do beauty workshops at cancer centers and we do a girls night out. We’re just trying to bring awareness to all cancers especially breast cancer since I’m a survivor I was diagnosed very young at 25 and I try to bring as much awareness as possible. Not to scare people just to make them aware. Just not be naïve about the fact that cancer has no age limit. So it’s just better to have early detection so it’s why I share my story so much. But also the journey of going through it is extremely difficult. There is some light at the end of the tunnel right? And during you learn a lot about life and so I want to guide them through it and that’s what we do and tell them they can live life and feel beautiful while going through it.
E.S.P.JEN: What made you decide to start Beating Cancer In Heels?
Marlena Ortiz: When I was going through it and I envisioned cancer right, so I was gonna be bald and pale and I thought all these things and I was 25 years old I was like Oh my God, I planned on being single, I’m 30, yayyy. At that time, you know, I planned on being single and partying and working and just being the young woman I’m supposed to be doing all those fun things. So now I’m envisioning I’m gonna be sick, I’m gonna be bald, I’m gonna be pale and so much but one thing about myself that I always did since I was young was wear high heels, you name it, I did it in high heels and so what I said to myself is I’m gonna beat cancer in heels so I wore high heels to all my treatments and it was my way of keeping my sense of self which is why I do this. TO educate women to keep your sense of self through this, it doesn’t define you, but it’s now a part of your life, right so how to keep yourself with this. So ya that’s why I called it beating cancer in heels.
E.S.P.JEN: I can’t imagine what it would be like finding out news like that at 25, what’s something you can tell women to get them through it?
Marlena Ortiz: One thing I always tell women is that breast cancer or cancer in general could never take away your true beauty. So that’s the main thing. Take one day at a time and to keep living and every day that you’re alive is a good day. And to keep smiling and to keep living. And if you need to breakdown, break down! But get back up cuz you’re here today so enjoy it
E.S.P.JEN: What made you say "Oh wait a minute I have to get this checked out", were there any signs?
Marlena Ortiz: When it really became a big red flag for me was I was taking a shower and I just felt it and I was like oh my gosh it was like a chill went down my body. I never thought anything, really much into it, but I did go to a doctor and he told me that it was a fibroid due to drinking too much coffee and come back in 6 months and I was like ok. So then about a month later, I got a call and they gave me a sonogram/mammogram and diagnosed me but before that I had this lump 3 years prior and they kept misdiagnosing it and wouldn’t give me the test that was needed so which is why I advocate for this because at that time, now I think it’s gotten a little bit better, but I can’t speak for everyone but that you’re young I had no family history, health insurance isn’t going to cover this test that is needed, that was the response that I got from one doctor , could you imagine. I’m like okay,alright. The point is I didn’t know that I could get breast cancer, I was in my 20s, why would I ever think that, so that’s why I went out there and girl I told my story to the world.
E.S.P.JEN: Where can people get more information concerning Beating Cancer in Heels?
Marlena Ortiz: You can visit us at BeatingCancerInHeels.org
My email address is on there, they can contact me if they wanna support, if they know someone who would like any of our services, and thank you so much I love HOT 97, I listen to you guys all the time, heard it this morning and was so excited and I just grew up listening to you guys, so to actually be on there it’s just very validating and you’re giving me a voice to your listeners and they need to hear it, so thank you.
E.S.P.JEN: What are you listening to nowadays?
Marlena Ortiz: It’s so much, it really depends on what my mood is. So if I wanna feel a little sexy then I listen to some Rihanna, Britney Spears new song, “Work It”. I put it on to get me amped in the morning when I’m like taking the bus and train to get to Manhattan, I’m like yes work bitch, work bitch, work bitch. Hahaha You want it you gotta work
(E.S.P.JEN, Ashlee & Casey from BravoTV's Princesses of Long Island)
I then spoke to the beautiful hostesses of the night, Ashley and Casey of BravoTV's Princesses Of Long Island to learn more about them and being part of this event, what makes them a "princess", and of course their fashion sense!
E.S.P.JEN: What does the event, Beating Cancer In Heels, mean to you personally?
Ashlee: This is for all the survivors anyone affected by breast cancer we’re going to beat this in heels, fabulous heels!
Casee: For me it’s more like if you don’t know how to give you don’t know how to live so I'm all about giving back.
E.S.P.JEN: How does the fashion associate with the organization? And how important is fashion to you?
Ashlee: Well it means the title of it, Beating Cancer In Heels, you can do anything in heels but it’s also my favorite, I love stand out pieces, and that is all that I’ve seen here, there’s stand out bling, everything , my credit card is out and for a good cause!
Casey: I’m having a great time I’m collecting a lot of accessories, and even before Ashley came I’m like I have 6 rings, I have a bracelet, a cupcake [hahaha], it’s been awesome, I’m having such a great time.
E.S.P.JEN: I have to ask you, what makes a Princess of Long Island different from any other girl from any other city?
Ashlee: I can only answer that, according to me and this princess right here is someone who is over the top, loves the finer things but also is so grateful and really appreciates the smaller things and the biggest princess quality on me is I’m so grateful and appreciative and like I’m here I wanna give back as much as I can…but I still wear my tiara! LOL
Casey: I’m more of a princess of New York City, I’m night life royalty. When we shot the show I was actually a waitress but now I’m the VIP host of my company so I’m really excited and just enjoying every minute.
E.S.P.JEN: So what is your fashion style?
Casey: I love edgy whatever makes me feel comfortable it’s made for me. I never go out of the house without a couple of things mainly a lip gloss and sunglasses but umm Ashley on the other hand never leaves without her heels on
Ashlee: Yes, that is the best way to describe my style, I don’t care if I’m in sweatpants, in a basic tee, or the beach, you better know that I’m stepping out in the hottest heels, that’s it, that’s my style.
E.S.P.JEN: Who are your top 3 designers of all time?
Casey: Louboutin, Chanel, and Michael Kors
Ashley: that’s a very hard question for me because I have pieces that are high end and low end. I would say jeans definitely J brand, fit me like a glove, shoes Louboutin because they make a size 4, and I would do jewelry Yurman, on point.
E.S.P.JEN: What makes this event so special and unique?
Casey: I think creating awareness about anything is really important and after speaking to one of the hosts of this event she enlightened me about what happened with her experience and for me it makes me more aware of my own self and my own body and getting girls aware of this in general is very important
Ashlee: For me this event really is about survivors and so they don’t feel alone. They know that people are out there, trying for new research, and trying to help them raise money, and when you don’t feel alone, it’s like the best feeling. So I would definitely say like you said spreading awareness and giving back and making women feel like you’re a woman, I don’t care what happened you’re still a woman, look at these fabulous designers. We’re raising money, you’re special, and you’re a survivor
There were also some music artists in the crowd including Miesa, a SONY recording artist who you need to look out for in months to come. With her great personality, beauty, and insatiable love for music, I'm sure we'll hear about her soon!
(E.S.P.JEN, Miesa SONY Recording Artist)
Miesa: I've been singing since I was little, I officially signed with Siri/E1/SONY a year, year and a half ago. My single, "Anecdote" is on iTunes. We wrapped up the video, it's on VEVO. My next single is supposed to premiere next week, but it's a secret when it's coming out. We wrapped up the video for that, and we're just moving along!
E.S.P.JEN: So, what kind of sound would you say your music is, and how is it different from all the other artists out right now?
Miesa: You know what? You'd have to hear it. It's a mixture of R&B and pop, and I'm Haitian and Filipino! We're still working on the album so, hopefully we get some Haitian and Filipino sounds -- West Indian meets Pacific Islander/Asian!
E.S.P.JEN: What were your influences growing up and how does it affect your music now?
Miesa: Because my father is a musician, he was like a jukebox. Every morning, he played Lionel Richie, The Commodores, Babyface,The Beatles. So, everything! Even now, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake. So, it's like, growing up, I didn't really have a favorite artist. I had certain ones I liked and loved but we were inspired by different music because that was what he played. I'm inspired by so many different artists, I love everything. I love life, I love music, I love being creative. I'm inspired by everything. My mother is from Haiti, so that's something I'm inspired by. And my dad is Filipino, so I'm pulling from everywhere!
E.S.P.JEN: Heyyyyy shouts to the Asians. So if there was an artist you could work with right now, who would it be? Or are you working with some you really love already?
Miesa: Oh gosh, there's so many! Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, and I know this is weird, but, TLC! (laughs)
E.S.P.JEN: OMG speaking of which, I just interviewed them! That was a huge moment for me, a huge highlight of my life!
Miesa: I love them because they're women, they went through a lot in their loves and I can relate to each one. I want them to come back, you know? Rest in peace, Left Eye.
E.S.P.JEN: Did you see the movie?
E.S.P.JEN: What did you think of Lil Mama playing Left Eye?
Miesa: At one point, my eyes started crossing and I was like, "That's Left Eye!" I started getting sad because I'm like, "man, what happened?" I know she was here for a reason, and she touched so many people. She was so creative. It was emotional for me.
E.S.P.JEN: There are so many R&B pop artists out there, right now, what makes you different from every other artist out there? What makes you stand out? What makes your music stand out?
Miesa: Well, of course I'm Haitian and Filipino. People compare me to a lot of other artists because of the way I look, but I really love to sing -- I can sing. I'm an artist who's been singing since I was little. I have a musical background. I can play some piano. I'm consistent with who I am. I want to be true to who I am. I want to be that positive artist! (laughs)
E.S.P.JEN: Now that wasn't any shade to any other artists out there, was it?
E.S.P.JEN: I just had to ask! But there are so many artists with the face but can't sing. I'm assuming you want to bring that back together-- the voice and the look.
Miesa: Yes! I want to bring real music back.
E.S.P.JEN: What can we expect? Are you working on an album right now?
Miesa: We're working on the album. It's not done yet because we have a bunch of songs we're going through but the first video we wrapped is on VEVO, the second premieres at the end of the month, I think. You'll see it soon.
E.S.P.JEN: Thank you so much, Miesa. Are there any last words? Where can we find your music? When are you coming out? I hope you come out with a bang!
Miesa: I love HOT 97, shout out to HOT 97! You can find my music on This is a link to www.MiesaMusic.com, also, my Instagram is @MiesaMusic, my Twitter is @MiesaMusic, and shout out to all my Haitians and Filipinos!
Lastly, I talked to the DJ of the night, DJ/model Nate Ryan who's also a star on VH1's Miami Monkey, a show about VH1's Mob Wives mob princess Big Ang:
(E.S.P.JEN, DJ Nate Ryan of VH1's Miami Monkey)
E.S.P.JEN: What makes Miami Monkey different from every other bar?
Nate Ryan: We got Big Ang, we're on Ocean Drive, it's a nice spot. It's something we're building; we have the bar, we have the lounge. It's about bringing New York to Miami and kind of meshing the two together.
E.S.P.JEN: How did you get this job? Why did you want to work for this place? I know it's reality TV, let's be real, but what makes you want to be a part of this?
Nate Ryan: Well, I've been turning down a few reality TV shows recently, but my music, DJing, production is based upon followers. I did this for music. You see me in the streets, I've got my hat pulled low. I'm not trying to be seen. That's not what I'm about. I'm about the music. I spin in Miami Beach, I do a few clubs there, but for me to get to the next level, it's about bringing the followers, more people. So, I joined for that.
E.S.P.JEN: What kind of music do you spin in the club? Do you have a particular style?
Nate Ryan: Yeah, I definitely have a particular style that I love. I come from a musical background, I play instruments. I love all music as long as it's good and gets you going. I love underground house , deep house, tech house, minimal techno. It's all about playing to the crowd so my sounds vary.
E.S.P.JEN: You said you play instruments. What instruments do you play?
Nate Ryan: I'm a percussionist, that's how I keep the beat with the DJing. when I was young, my family is from Barbados, I'm Bajan so we started with some bongos and all that stuff.
ESPJEN: You Bajans are definitely wild, ahem, Rihanna. (laughs)
Nate Ryan: (laughs) We know how to have fun.
E.S.P.JEN: As a DJ, what is your ultimate goal? To be on a radio station, or just to spin around the world? What's the ultimate goal for Nate Ryan?
Nate Ryan: My ultimate goal is standing in front of that sold out crowd, with their hands up, not worried about the crowd around them, listening to the best music in the world.
I had such a great time, met a bunch of cool people, and what's dope about it is that we were all there for one thing, to spread awareness about Breast Cancer.
Ladies, please make sure you get yourself checked or check yourself periodically whether you're 16 or 55-years-old. If you feel or see anything out of the ordinary, go see a doctor immediately. Like Marlena, the Founder of Beating Cancer In Heels said, cancer has no age limit.