Two Harbors native: Making Strides Against Breast CancerIf breast cancer hasn't touched your life, it’s likely to have affected someone you know. One in eight women will be diagnosed with an invasive form of the disease, translating to more than 225,000 new cases this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
If breast cancer hasn’t touched your life, it’s likely to have affected someone you know. One in eight women will be diagnosed with an invasive form of the disease, translating to more than 225,000 new cases this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on Oct. 6, at 9 a.m., the third annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will be held at Lake Superior College in Duluth. Breast cancer survivor Bonnie Perkins, a Two Harbors native, is chairwoman of the event that includes a 5 kilometer walk around the campus and is intended to draw participants from all over the region. A similar event will be held in Ely.
“I had breast cancer two years ago and was undergoing chemo therapy the day of the walk,” Perkins told the News-Chronicle. “I couldn’t walk the whole 5k, so they pulled me in a wagon. I could cry just thinking about it … the love and support were just incredible.”
Perkins and her team of volunteers have been hard at work for months planning this event and are hopeful of a good turn-out. “Knowing what it meant to me to be a part of the walk, I want to encourage other women to be there—just to come and be a part of the festivities,” she said.
Last year. More than 500 people walked in solidarity. This year there will also be a climbing wall, chair-massage, face painting and vendors selling cupcakes and roses. “We wanted there to be fun for the whole family,” said Perkins, because breast cancer doesn’t just affect the woman, it affects her family, friends, co-workers—everyone in her life.”
Speaking of family, another Two Harbors native, Lisa Cavallin has been involved with the event as well. Lisa, a relative of Perkins was recruited for last year’s event and happily stepped up to lend a hand. “I watched Bonnie go through her experience with breast cancer, so when she asked me if I would be a team leader for the event, I was honored to be a part.” Now on the planning committee for Making Strides against Breast Cancer 2012, she is busy getting the word out about the event.
“This is really a northeastern Minnesota event, not just a Duluth event. I’m trying to encourage people from up here to attend,” she said. “Everybody knows somebody who has had breast cancer, so the more people we have at the at the walk, the more we can raise awareness and the more support we can offer people going through it.”
Cavallin just finished nursing school at the College of St. Scholastica and is hoping to find work in her field soon, but “if I was unemployed as a nurse one day, it would be amazing,” she said, looking forward to a time when women will no longer have to worry about diseases like breast cancer.
It should be noted that women are not the only victims of this disease; one in every 100 cases occurs in men.
Although the numbers of cases has been declining, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of death in women after lung cancer.
The event is a fundraiser, said Perkins, but “what’s really awesome about this event is that it’s not just about raising money. It’s about raising awareness.”
To that end, the group has found a way to light up their effort—literally. On Oct. 5, the Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park with be lit with pink lights.
That’s good for public attention. The rest is up to individuals themselves, and as a survivor, Perkins encourages women to have mammograms, do monthly breast exams and be aware of their bodies.
“Having gone through it, I now think of my breast as a foot,” she said, referring to the frankness with which she now talks about the disease, “ I have a different filter now.”
Perkins is an example of the soundness of her advice. Since her diagnosis and treatment two years ago she has been healthy. “I’m going great,” she said.
Lake Superior College is at 2101 Trinity Road. To donate to the American Cancer Society, for more information about Making Strides against Breast Cancer or directions to the event, go to http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCFY13MW?pg=entry&fr_id=47502