Health

Virtual Walks Encourage Breast Cancer Survivors to Press On and Live

The joy and pride felt from participating in a walk for a cause are indescribable. This year, due to COVID-19, the American Cancer Society has veered towards virtual celebrations for Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Making Strides of Washington, D.C.

To commemorate, the committee is planning for an exciting week-long virtual event that will kick off Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. and run through Saturday, Oct. 31. The event will include special guest speakers, live performers, survivor celebrations, participant and team recognition, competitions, prizes.

”COVID-19 has affected this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The event is going to look different from previous years.  The safety of our patients, survivors, volunteers, and staff always comes first,” informs Corinne Bombowsky, who is the senior community development manager of the American Cancer Society.

“Although we can’t be together in person, we still need to continue the fight to raise awareness and life-saving funds for those breast cancer patients who still need support during this crisis. Funds raised help continue our research, 24/7 helpline and patient service. Although we can’t be together in person, we can still celebrate, remember and fight back.”

Serena Holtz is a one-year breast cancer survivor who annually supports cancer research by raising funds doing walks and events in the DMV.

“The money that I raise from my annual galas for breast cancer research, I give time Relay for Life,” replies Hultz who also recently underwent a double mastectomy in her second battle at 61. “I always believe that I have made the right choice to give the money to them. In the future, we will give to individuals who need mammograms, money for household bills,  and or groceries who are fighting breast cancer.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from breast cancer are going down among both Black and white women, especially among younger black women. But breast cancer death rates are 40 percent higher among Black women than white women. Black women are more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, a kind of breast cancer that often is aggressive and comes back after treatment.

“It’s never over because there is no cure,” states Kimberly Johnson-Redder of Silver Spring, Md., who gets emotional when describing what it feels like to be a seven-year survivor. “Recently I had a scare after doing a self-exam. It was only scar tissue, thankfully, but my husband and sons were nervous. I had to do intense research to get resources when going through treatment because there is not much for Black women.”

Serena created a CaringBridge Site that is a social network to help people stay connected with family and friends during a health crisis.

“I am a ‘But, God!’” says Johnson-Redder. “Serena is a ‘But, God!’ We are thrilled to walk. Shortly after my treatments in 2013,  I walked 26 out of the 39 miles just to prove to myself that I still can.”

Sign up for the virtual walk at www.makingstrideswalk.org/washingtonDC. Follow Making Strides on Facebook (www.facebook.com/makingstridesdc) and Instagram (@makingstrideswashingtondc). To stay connected to emotional support, go to https://caringbridge.org/visit/serenaholtz2.

“Together we will fight and together we will save more lives!,” exclaimed Corinne Bombowsky.

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