Sunday was a day for teaching about breast cancer and Julie Jones was at the head of the class.
She showed how a survivor can live a healthy and athletic life by winning the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5- kilometer race in two categories — women and survivors.
Jones, at 42 and 10 years after beating breast cancer, showed a survivor can go on to raise a family by proudly showing off her 3-month-old son, Jensen, to other survivors after the race.
And she passes on what she has learned every day as softball coach for the University of Akron.
“We do talk about it,” she said, explaining her story is part of her coaching technique of talking about adversity. “I don’t think they understand it unless they have it in their family. We talk about adversity a lot.”
Jones said she appreciated how the race, new to the Komen program in Akron but the 198th started worldwide, puts an emphasis on keeping active.
“I think it’s incredibly important,” she said. “It’s also good for mental health.”
Those lost to cancer were remembered at a ceremony on the 18th green of Firestone Country Club, but the atmosphere was lighthearted, including T-shirts that said “Save Second Base” and “Protect the Ta Tas.”
Mary Lou Kuhar, 84, of Medina, remembers when talk of cancer darkened any conversation.
Even now, she has to raise awareness when she tells friends how she beat it 14 years ago.
“They go: ‘Cancer?’ And I say ‘Hello!’ I was lucky I had a lumpectomy.”
Now she makes a habit of checking herself frequently and going to the doctor every six months.
The race started at Firestone Stadium on South Main Street in Akron, continued up Swartz and Harrington roads and finished on Warner Road near the golf course, which already is dressed up for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational later this week.
Jeremy Patton of Akron won the men’s competition in 6 minutes, 2 seconds. Jones’ time was 7:48 to win the women’s and the survivors’ race. The second-place woman was Julie Greenlee of Akron in 7:53. Amy Ladd was the second survivor at 9:38.
Dotty and Perry Lowe have seen cancer come to them twice. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago. Both are doing fine and are thankful for each other.
“He’s been my big support through all of this,” she said. “It just means everything to have someone.”
Barbara Mayhew, 62, of Powell, near Columbus, said she has become more active since being diagnosed and treated 12 years ago.
“They say that cancer changes you, but that is not a bad thing,” she said. “Every day is a gift.”
Beverly Barkley of Wadsworth, 71, struck a similar theme.
“It really did change my priorities,” she said. “I’m doing more things with my family.”
A teacher, she even decided to retire earlier than necessary shortly after she beat breast cancer 16 years ago.
“I know I could get more if I taught another five years, but it wasn’t worth it,” she said.
Speaking in a short ceremony after the race, Lee Giller reminded the 1,800 participants that a few men get breast cancer, too. Komen estimates 1,970 men will be diagnosed this year with 390 deaths estimated. More than 1.6 million people around the world are diagnosed each year and about 425,000 died in 2010.
“We want people to be aware of male breast cancer,” he said.
Later he had advice for anyone: “As soon as there is a sign of anything, go and get it checked.”
Teams with the most money raised were honored.
Team Jodi Clark from Old Republic Title won the company competition; Chris’ Cure Crusaders won the community competition; and Cheer Hudson won the school competition.
Cheer Hudson also had the most participants among schools. Diebold Corp. had the most from a company and Ciraldo’s Crusaders for the Cure won the community competition.
The total of funds raised was not available.
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.