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Survivors, Friends Turn Out for Race

By Jane Yoo

The statistics are alarming: this year, over 175,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 43,000 will die. If you’re quick with math, you’ll note that this amounts to one new diagnosis every three minutes, and one death every twelve minutes. Indeed, breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 35 and 54 in the United States.

However, rather than lamenting over this data, breast cancer survivors, along with their families, friends, and supporters, have sent a clear signal to others -- the fight to eradicate this disease that claims so many lives annually has not subsided.

Nowhere did I find this messsage clearer than at the 7th annual Boston Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure. Taking place last Sunday, the 5K run/walk involved women, men, and children of all ages and athletic abilities.

Groggily, my friends and I woke up at 6 a.m., to catch the bus from Kenmore station to Brighton, MA. We chose to run in the All Women’s 5K, starting from Daly Field and extending along the bank of the Charles River.

After receiving my white race shirt, I pinned my race number on and looked around to admire the survivors, all smiles in their pink shirts and hats. Many people had also pinned pink sheets on their backs, displaying the names of survivors, and individuals who had lost their lives to breast cancer. From mothers, grandmothers, sisters aunts, and special friends, many have had a close association with breast cancer.

From running with the National Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C., I knew that this race would not start without an invigorating aerobics session led by some local-area celebrity. Indeed, the warm-up before the Boston Race for the Cure was led by the Patriots Cheerleaders. With my muscles stretched, I was ready to run the 5K.

Since I wasn’t actually aiming to win the race, especially against world-class long-distance runner and participant Khalid Khannouchi, I focused on keeping a reasonable pace so that I could finish the run without stopping along the way. But, as the race got underway, I realized that even with my shortness of breath, there was no way that I would even consider stopping. I became so inspired by the women who had had the courage to endure far more difficult and painful endeavors.

According to Dana M. Forti ’01, the Boston Race for the Cure “completely surpassed my expectations. It was so touching to see all those women out there with their pink hats and all the others with their pink sheets.”

Proceeds from the race are used in the Boston area for local breast cancer education, mammogram screening, and research. Proceeds also fund the National Grant Programs of the Komen Foundation.

If the race did anything at all, it profoundly affected the lives of those who do not have breast cancer. The experience especially gave perspective to many.

“It wasn’t just a race anymore,” said Tamra L. Haby ’01.

For several runners, the race became very meaningful. “It only came to me realization of how important this race was when I saw all the survivors and the women who were running it for relatives,” noted participant Julie M. Watts ’02.

Crossing the finish line, and happy that I had completed the 5K, I cheered and clapped for all of the women survivors still running the race. I was amazed at how the Race for the Cure enabled me to call and holler to these strangers, somehow held by a special bond.

Said Forti, “I have never been inspired by a group of women who I don’t even know, striving against a common foe together and really supporting one another.”