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Health Team

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure organizers hope delay won't affect breast cancer research

Posted May 1, 2020 6:15 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2020 10:20 a.m. EDT

— The 24th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure originally scheduled for Saturday, May 2 at the Frontier in Research Triangle Park has been moved to Sept. 12 due to coronavirus restrictions.

Organizers hope the delay won't weaken fundraising efforts to promote research to fight breast cancer.

In November 2014, Amy Charney was first diagnosed with a type of breast tumor called ductal carcinoma in situ. After a few months of testing from biopsies and imaging, doctors determined that she had a more invasive form of the disease called IDC, or invasive ductal carcinoma. The underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

That's when she entered a clinical trial through UNC's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Institute for a less toxic chemotherapy approach.  It allowed Charney to run the Boston Marathon during her treatment. Before diagnosis, she had been an active runner, competing in thirteen marathons.

That year, while receiving a dose of the study drug, Charney expressed her reason for optimism. "It has much less side effects and can make my cancer treatment that much more manageable," she said.

Now, more than four years later, the cancer has not reappeared. Charney is serving as a staff member for the Triangle Komen Foundation.

The avid runner had been eager to participate in this weekend's annual fundraiser before social distancing restrictions forced many spring fundraising events, including Race for the Cure, to be either canceled or rescheduled.

Since the race won't happen for months, Charney recently laced up her running shoes and jogged around the Frontier property off Highway 54 in RTP, where the event would have been held.

The parking lot was eerily empty.

"There would normally be thousands of people coming out to celebrate loved ones or survivors," Charney said.

The success of past events have been remarkable, said Teresa Dunlap, a breast cancer survivor who is now VP of the Triangle Komen Foundation Board. "I mean, we raise between $800,000 and $1 million with this event."

Dunlap said the success of fundraising efforts leading up to the new race date of Sept. 12 is difficult to predict, but she vows there will be no shortage of effort.

"I mean, everyone is focused, rightfully so, on the COVID-19 pandemic, but, you know, people are still getting breast cancer. People still need treatment," said Dunlap.

Dunlap remembers her diagnosis in 2012 and the treatments she received alongside other female breast cancer patients.

"I was beside women who had to leave work to go through chemotherapy and go back to work and who were alone and didn't have the resources," she said.

Charney says Komen's mission and the people who might benefit deserve their best effort this coming September.

"We don't really want to have a virtual event because there really is something special about bringing us all together," Charney said.

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