Cancer survivor puts work into Komen fundraising, message
Posted June 8
The Komen Triangle Race for the Cure is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary thanks to people like breast cancer survivor Phyllis Stevenson. She has participated in every race and plans to keep coming back every year until a cure for cancer is found.
“I keep coming back to Komen because it is a celebration of life, of survivorship,” Stevenson said. “It’s like coming back to a family reunion where you get to reconnect with old survivors and meet new survivors. There’s a lot of joy and faith and hope. Women are hugging each other, embracing, crying and there’s just so much joy.”
The Komen race provides a milestone for a special group of participants every year. It takes place during the survivor celebration and provides Phyllis and so many others the perseverance and determination to continue their battle against breast cancer.
“I remember my first year of being in the survivor line behind the sign that said one to five years,” Stevenson reminisced. “I looked behind me and I saw the 20-plus sign, and I prayed for the day when I would be in the back of the line behind that 20-plus sign.”
Stevenson is now in the 20-year survivor club and has become a prolific fundraiser along the way. Since that first race in 1997, she has secured more than $30,000 in donations for Komen.
“Sharing my story and my journey with breast cancer makes it easy to raise funds for the Komen Race for the Cure. Breast cancer has impacted so many lives that people feel like they want to make a difference. By donating to the race, they feel like they are being a part of the effort to help find a cure for breast cancer.”
Arnie Dales has been Stevenson’s constant companion during every Komen race. She has seen first-hand the positive influence her good friend has had on others.
“Phyllis is an inspiration to other cancer survivors,” Dales said. “Not only does she participate in Komen, but she goes out in the community and passes out educational material, answers questions and does so much more. She goes the extra mile to help others who are facing this disease.”
“My message to someone who has been newly diagnosed with breast cancer is to stop, take a moment to breathe, then surround yourself with a loving, caring support group,” Stevenson stated. “Then, I recommend you put on your war paint and you fight for your survivorship.”
Stevenson knows all about the fight. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 when she was only 31 years old. She did a lot of soul searching, leaned on her family, found a support group and endured many treatments and procedures. Eventually she found a silver lining when the first Komen race came to the Triangle 20 years ago.
“When I heard the race was coming to Raleigh I got so excited,” she said. “I went to the race and I got hooked on the celebration, the atmosphere and the hope that this race offers survivors.”
That first Komen race inspired Stevenson to become a community leader in the fight against deadly diseases. She has participated in countless walks and races to raise money for charity and medical research. Last month she raised $4,300 dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and will raise thousands more for this year’s Komen race.
“You want to have those friends that are just not thinking about themselves, but thinking about others,” Dales said. “Phyllis has done exceptionally well as a breast cancer survivor, a fundraiser and a role model. She has always been positive. She always has a smile on her face, always goes the extra mile. I’ve been very proud of her.”
As a 22-year breast cancer survivor, Stevenson has no plans on slowing down. She will continue the fight and will continue to spread hope and encouragement to all those around her.
“I believe with my survivorship and the testimony that I have, that I need to give back. I need to make a difference in somebody else’s life. So by participating in events and raising money, I am giving back. I am making my life count for something. I have a purpose.”
Help the fight against cancer by joining Team WRAL at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday, June 11.