It was an eyebrow makeup lesson given to a friend undergoing cancer treatment that first inspired Laura Geller to give back.

“I wanted them to look natural for her, and when we looked in the mirror and we’d finally got it right — the shape, the shade — we both started to cry,” said Geller, makeup artist and founder of her self-named product line. “She smiled, a light came back to her eyes, and that’s how I realized beauty can make a difference. That feeling is contagious. I was hooked.”

Geller was honored at CEW’s Beauty of Giving lunch, an annual fund-raising event benefiting Cancer and Careers, at the Waldorf Astoria here on Friday afternoon. “Through sales and donations of products, our brand has donated over $1 million to Cancer and Careers,” noted Geller, who has been involved with the organization since founding her line 20 years ago.

This year’s fund-raiser garnered $732,000 through table sales, a live auction, and donations made before and at the event. Geller underscored the universality of cancer. “I’m going to do something a little out of the box, and I’m hoping you will indulge me here, because you’re all my friends in this room,” Geller said. “I need everyone in this room right now to stand up if you have cancer, if you have a friend or loved one who has suffered from cancer, or if you have lost someone to cancer.” The audience complied, and Geller was not surprised by what she saw. “Look around this room, you guys….We’re all standing,” she said. “Cancer touches everyone.”

Touched by the fully standing audience, Geller highlighted the progress Cancer and Careers has made over the years she has been involved. She recognized that cancer was a taboo subject 20 years ago. “There were fewer options and solutions and a lot more shame around cancer,” Geller said. “I couldn’t have asked these questions, I’m sure.”

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