How we're Really Making Strides in Breast Cancer

October was Breast Cancer awareness month. I became more aware than ever when my Mom was summoned by the gods of modern medicine in for a second and yet a third test to find out why her health was not in top shape. She was prodded, poked and asked to wait, but hopeful. Then waiting turned into a second and yet a third visit, and eventually she and we became mightily on edge.  The occurrence set off a series of arguments between my sisters and I. Before anything was even for sure, we were already up in arms over it. We were all scared of what would happen and in a way preparing for whatever it meant and realizing we had no idea what to expect - if she was diagnosed.  In the end, THANKFULLY, she was given an antibiotic and told to take it easy for a while, but cleared of abnormal cancer cells. 

Man. That was terrible. And, she doesn't even have cancer. 

Fast forward to October 20th. I'm waiting patiently in my car on Route 32 to gain entrance into the magnificent outlet shopping center-of-the-discount-world known as Woodbury Commons. it's 7:30am. You read that right. Packed at 7:30am with people who are excited and mostly dressed in pink. Well this is nothing short of awesome. We're parked on the highway lined up by the hundreds before finally being waved in to the purple parking lot. This foreign destination, dare i exaggerate, is basically a 3 mile walk to the main grounds of the Commons. The lots are maxed out to capacity with busloads of people, from all over the county. I've never seen anything quite like it.. except maybe at a Phish concert once buried in 60 thousand people. But, I digress. Why are they all here? Well it seems my family isn't the only one with heads buzzing from the words "breast cancer."

Team Tuxedo walked for Theresa Healy

According to the American Cancer society, now in its 100th year, a total of 300 communities have raised more than 528 million dollars amidst the Making Strides effort to fight breast cancer. And, we're winning the fight. There has been a 20% decline in cancer death rates since 1991 and a 50% drop in the number of women smokers. Funds are used for research, prevention - securing access to mammograms, treatment and as always -eyes on the prize in seeking a cure for cancer once and for all. American Cancer Society also provides a 24-hour hotline where people can gain access to rides to treatment, counseling and even acquire chemo side effect resources like hair pieces. That number: 1- 800-227-2345 - 

Quest Pine Bush Cheerleaders cheered on walkers at Making Strides

Wanda Velez is a 10 year breast cancer survivor. She was the pacesetter at the 2013 Making Strides walk and a beautiful speaker. She shared with the audience the details of her plight. She was 39 at the time of diagnosis, and a single Mom of 3 beautiful girls - one headed to college, one starting at a new school, and a baby entering Kindergarten. She says she instantly went into fight mode. "I will beat this because I want to see my girls grow up and I want to see my grandchildren someday." Wanda's grandsons, Jayden (7) and Xavier (1) are cheering her on everyday. 

American Cancer society helped Wanda navigate the process she would endure as a woman entering battle against the disease. 

"I am here as a testimony today that we can succeed and persevere and live a happy, healthy life. Be proud of your strength and courage. Yes, strength and courage because this battle requires both. Keep a positive state of mind. Where your mind is your body will follow. You will have moments when you want to give up, but tell yourself that you are like a champion boxer and you will win this fight round by round." She concluded, "Keep the faith, don't lose hope and be blessed." 

The Fruit Queen, Judy Annunziati and her walkers. 

More awesome photos: 

together we are stronger!

Team Finkelstein

Newburgh Price Chopper in pink tulle skirts.

walkers and pink balloons

Wanda's Warriors - a Non-Profit coming soon in honor of a local woman who battled breast cancer for 8 years.