Komen for the Cure

Race is 'triumph' for breast cancer survivors

Posted June 12, 2010 6:40 a.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2010 4:30 p.m. EDT

— More than 30,000 people gathered at Meredith College Saturday morning for the largest foot race in North Carolina – the 14th annual Komen NC Race for the Cure.

About 1,200 survivors of breast cancer were among the 25,000 registered racers and 5,000 spectators.

"It's a moment of triumph for them. It's a bold statement about what we're trying to do to fight this disease," said Pam Blondin, executive director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation's NC Triangle chapter.

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Survivors wore pink pins representing how many years they have lived through breast cancer, and other race participants wore placards bearing the names of those they know who have been impacted by the disease.

"They're men and women walking around who look just like us, but their stories are huge and powerful," said Pam Saulsby, leader of WRAL's team in the race. "Their fighting spirit is just so strong. They don't give up."

Simply participating in the race can be therapeutic for survivors, organizers said.

"It's also a sort of reunion," Blondin said. "I had one woman, a survivor, this morning who told me this is the one place that she sees people from her support group from 10 years ago. They meet here every year."

"I don't know if you are ever sure your cancer is gone completely,” Ellen Williamson, a four-year survivor of breast cancer, said.

Organizers hope the annual race will raise $2 million to fund breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. The past 13 editions of the race raised more than $12 million.

Last year, funds raised by the race went to help 16,000 local men and women, said Kevin Sowers, chair of the Komen NC's board.

"It's money that goes directly back and touches the lives of people living right beside us," Sowers said.

Debra Goldman, vice-chairwoman of the Wake County Board of Education, is a two-year survivor of breast cancer. She ran to show support for others who must face a breast cancer diagnosis.

"It is horrifying. It is devastating. It is shocking,” Goldman said of first learning she had breast cancer.

Sherry McFalls ran for her grandmother, her fiance's mother and two of her aunts, all who have had breast cancer.

"It was so heartbreaking to see them have to go through this, and the pain, my grandmother especially. It was terrible with her,” McFalls said.

Volunteer Louie Bowen, whose aunt died of breast cancer this year, said she's confident that eventually, a cure will end the fight against breast cancer.

"One day, this will be gone, so we'll be out here partying for good stuff – not fighting. We'll just be partying," Bowen predicted.