Thinking Pink

| April 13, 2011
Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

Talking to Betsey Part 1: Don’t forget to pick up next week’s issue, in which we’ll dish Derby with the fashion diva.

Ask people what they know about Betsey Johnson, and the answers will vary.

Some will cite the iconic designer’s penchant for creating funky, feminine fashions with a twist, others will pinpoint her penchant for pink, and still others will admit to knowing about her propensity for doing a cartwheel before the end of every fashion show.

What most don’t know is that Johnson is also a breast cancer survivor who once kept her battle private, lest it affect her profession.

“It’s been 11 years that I’ve been a survivor. I discovered my little tumor. One of my implants, they were very old … broke. I took them both out – I never want them again – and in the healing process, I noticed a third kind of little scar area. And that’s it: All of a sudden you belong to the sister league of pink,” she said.

Johnson underwent a lumpectomy. “I was very, very lucky,” she recalled. “I had radiation. I cartwheeled through a fashion show right through the middle of radiation. I did great, especially for not telling anyone.”

Today, the vivacious 68-year-old is a very visible – and vocal – figure in the fight to end the disease, which is why she’s so enthused about hosting The Voice-Tribune’s Brunch with Betsey Johnson presented by Chambord May 5 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown.

“I love to do anything to raise awareness. It’s easy for me when I’m doing an appearance I always say, ‘Get your mammograms.’  I wonder what if my implants didn’t break? They are extra careful with mammograms, but anyway, it’s all about the early detection.”

It’s also all about reaching out to others, Johnson said.

“I just think anybody that can be inspiring – any kind of public figure – you just want to give back as you’ve been given. There’s a point – which is different for everyone – where you just want to give back.”

Contact writer Angie Fenton at 502.551.2698 or

Betsey Watch

The famed fashionista will offer guests exclusive “race day style tips” at The Voice-Tribune’s Brunch with Betsey Johnson presented by Chambord, and she will also take part in a variety of other Derby activities.

Johnson will judge the Chambord Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest on May 6 at Churchill Downs. For every gal who walks the pink carpet in the garden, Chambord will donate $10 – again, per person – to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.  Participants will be judged on how fashionably they incorporate pink into their ensemble. Entrants showcasing their finest Oaks attire will be judged on the “pink carpet” in the Aristides Garden at Churchill Downs. The winner will receive an all-expense VIP trip for two to Fashion Week in New York City.

After the running of the Kentucky Oaks 137, Johnson will attend The Mint Jubilee, sponsored by Chambord, at The Palace Theatre.  The gala begins at 7 p.m. and benefits The Mint Jubilee Foundation. For more information, go to


What to wear to The Voice-Tribune’s Brunch with Betsey Johnson, presented by Chambord? Think pink and check out Lori Kommor’s Mixing It Up on  Page B-22 and B-23.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States.

Last year, according to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, it was estimated that among U.S. women there would be:

  • 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer (includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors)
  • 54,010 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer – includes ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), of those, about 85 percent were DCIS
  • 39,840 breast cancer deaths

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In 2010, it was estimated that among U.S. men there would be:

  • 1,970 new cases of breast cancer
  • 390 breast cancer deaths

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Category: Cover Stories

About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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