SPRINGFIELD – Sheron Peterson knew she had to stay strong – not just for herself, but for her family.
“The first thought that goes through your head when you hear cancer is, ‘Oh my God, am I going to die,’” Peterson said. “I tried to make sure my sons didn’t worry about that constantly. I needed to reassure them that I wasn’t going anywhere.”
Peterson was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2016, at the age of 45, when her youngest son was 14. A double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed, finally wrapping up in January.
“It was hard and I know my body is still healing,” she said.
But nothing will stop Peterson from lacing up her walking shoes for the upcoming Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The Springfield walk takes place on Oct. 7, starting at the Springfield Regional Cancer Center.
“I wasn’t strong enough to do it last year, but I’m really looking forward to it this year,” Peterson said. “I’m proud to be a survivor.”
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events – held nationwide – help the American Cancer Society save lives and ensure that no one faces this disease alone.
“We say ‘No One Walks Alone’ and we mean it,” said Teresa Hawke, chairperson for the Springfield Strides event. “We’re out to beat cancer and make a difference. It’s our passion.”
Breast cancer is expected to take the lives of more than 40,000 women in this country this year and an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. But one need only look at the 3.1 million survivors – like Peterson – to see the many faces of hope.
The Springfield event has grown steadily in recent years, raising just over $44,000 in 2014, $59,000 in 2015 and $69,000 last year. The goal is to field 90 teams this year and raise at least $70,000. Close to 60 teams are already registered.
Strides events raise money to help the American Cancer Society fund breast cancer research, provide information and support 24-7, and provide access to mammograms for women who need them. But the event does more than raise funds – it raises awareness.
“We’re nestled in between bigger cities (Dayton and Columbus) but we have offerings here for cancer treatment just like the bigger cities have,” Hawke said.
The Mercy Health Springfield Regional Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer as a Community Cancer Program. Its Cancer Care Outreach Program includes community education, screening and early-detection programs.
It was early detection – a routine mammogram – that caught Peterson’s cancer early. The importance of events like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, are not lost on the 46-year-old mother and, recently, grandmother.
“I fought it and I won, but there are people out there still fighting every day,” Peterson said.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE – ONE STRIDE AT A TIME
Money raised in 2016 helped the American Cancer Society with a variety of programs:
- Road To Recovery — Nearly 335,000 rides to treatment and cancer-related appointments were provided.
- Hope Lodge Communities — 456,000 free nights of lodging were provided to patients.
- Cancer Information — More than 1.2 million calls and live chats from those seeking support, information, and resources were handled by the 24/7 helpline.
- Reach To Recovery — More than 11,000 peer support services were provided to breast cancer patients.
- Patient Navigators — Nearly 45,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients received guidance from our patient navigators to help overcome barriers to care.
- Breast Cancer Research — The American Cancer Society is currently funding 160 grants related to breast cancer – totaling more than $62 million.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
MAKING STRIDES – SPRINGFIELD
When: Saturday, Oct. 7, registration – 8 a.m.; walk – 9 a.m.
Where: Springfield Regional Cancer Center, 148 W. North St., Springfield
More: DJ Chill – a Springfield-area first responder – will provide the tunes