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Community comes out to support cancer survivors

Hannah Swayze • Updated Oct 23, 2017 at 9:33 AM

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October has been a month for pink.

To celebrate it, over 1,500 participants came out Sunday for the Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K. Teams and those participating in the 5K all gathered in Founders Park to continue fundraising and celebrate the cause and have a fun celebration.

At 3 p.m. the sea of pink tutus, hair color and tiaras migrated, across West State of Franklin Road to begin the 5K.

According to Holly Booker, American Cancer Society event coordinator for Sunday’s event, the groups and teams as a whole raised approximately $112,000 of the $165,000 goal.

But the walk is more than just a fundraiser. The walk is also a way for the community to show their support for survivors.

“One in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. And when you have an event like this, it raises awareness, and it shows community support for the ones who've gone through it. And to raise money, obviously. The number one reason is to raise money so that we don't have to do this,” Booker said.

Many breast cancer survivors took part in the walk, donning special white sashes. 

One woman who wore one of those sashes is Laurie Blayney. Blayney is a cancer survivor who decked out head to toe for the walk, including a sparkly bright pink cape and feather boa that effectively reflected her positive mood.

Diagnosed in August 2015, Blayney is very familiar with cancer. Blayney began her fight with breast cancer and after chemotherapy, she ended up having a preventative hysterectomy. It was at that time that she found out that she also had ovarian cancer and had to go through treatment all over again.

The gene that caused her disease was passed down to Blayney from her father, who died less than a month ago from breast cancer. But despite all of that, she is doing well.

Blayney has finished all of her surgeries and all of her chemo and is now only seeing her doctor every three months. And according to her, while she wasn’t in great shape last year for the event, this year, she feels “fabulous!”

“This is just wonderful,” Blayney said in talking about the event. “It gives you that whole sense of ‘This is not my fight, this is not my disease, it belongs to us all in the community.’ And especially when you start meeting some people who are, you know, 16- to 20-year survivors, it just makes you say ‘OK I’m only a year into this but I’ve got a future’ and that a really nice to feel.”

Through the donations from her friends and co-workers, shey had raised over $1,200 prior to the event. Blayney enjoys coming to event to be reminded that she’s not alone. 

"It just really is helpful for somebody that's going through this. You just have this whole sense of this is not my fight. There are a lot of people that are in this,” Blayney said.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society and other events like this one or to donate to help fund research and help for survivors, visit www.cancer.org.

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