August 16, 2012 •
Crossing the Finish Line
In 2010, shortly after I told my daughters—ages 11 and 9 at the time—that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, we were watching television when an advertisement for the new Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospital in Cleveland came on. I looked at my 9-year-old’s face as she watched the commercial. I knew the word “cancer” would now take on an entirely different meaning when she heard it.
Now, it was personal. She turned to me and asked, “Mommy, why is breast cancer more important than other cancer? Why does it get more attention?” To which I responded, “Maggie, I can tell you the answer in two words: Susan Komen.” “Huh?” she replied. My daughter then got a crash course in patient advocacy, medical research, awareness, education, sisterly love, and yes, even grassroots lobbying. Her eyes got a little wider when I told her that in 2009, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation [now known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure] illuminated the Great Pyramids at Giza in pink. “Wow!” she replied. “Every cancer needs a Susan Komen.”
So when the Northeast Ohio Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced in 2011 that it would host its inaugural Akron Race for the Cure on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at Firestone Country Club, I knew I would be there.
Little did I know that by then, State and Federal Communications, Inc. would have started its own “Walking Challenge” as part of a fitness initiative and wellness program for its employees. Little did I know that by then, a team consisting of numerous co-workers and their family members would be participating in the Akron Race for the Cure, including Elizabeth Bartz, President and CEO of State and Federal Communications and a 6½ year breast cancer survivor herself. Little did I know that my breast surgeon, Dr. Jessica Partin from Akron General Hospital’s Reflections Breast Health Center, would speak at the Survivor Ceremony and get to meet my daughters (“Mommy, tell Dr. Partin that she has a really great smile!).
But here is what I did know: that when I crossed that finish line, I would be hand-in-hand, arms raised above our heads, with my two daughters and my “rock”—my sister, Christine Tvaroch. We crossed the finish line in honor of the family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers that have fought the good fight, some winning and unfortunately, some losing their battle with breast cancer. But thanks to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. And when the second annual Akron Race for the Cure is held in 2013, who knows what might happen? I sure intend on being there to find out!
Above photo courtesy of Karen Schiely. Nola Werren is a Client Specialst at State and Federal Communications.
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