After a mammography, ultrasound, biopsy, chemotherapy and mastectomy, Darlene Owen was delighted at her newest challenge — washing pink-colored cornstarch out of her short hair.
The New Franklin resident, 68, was among more than 2,000 to take part in Akron’s second annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday.
The walk is one of two that the Northeast Ohio affiliate holds yearly. The next Cleveland walk will be Sept. 21.
While final numbers aren’t in yet, the local 5k race and walk seemed poised to raise more than the $150,000 of last year, affiliate executive director Sean Shacklett said.
“It was wonderful. Perfect weather. It came off without a hitch, with so much energy and love all around,” he said.
Twenty-five percent of donations go to national research and up to 75 percent to grants that support breast health education, screening and support services at Northeast Ohio organizations. This year, 11 agencies received about $900,000.
In Akron, the pink-themed event (think balloons, roses, T-shirts, signs and more) opened with team awards. Diana’s Divas raised the most — more than $14,000.
That was followed by the start of the 5k at Firestone Stadium. En route to the Firestone Country Club, racers had the chance to be “pinked” — Komen talk for getting sprinkled with pink cornstarch — by volunteers. The event ended at the country club with a survivor ceremony.
Dr. Alfred Ciraldo provided a moving tribute to his wife, Debbie, 45, who died of breast cancer in 2001.
“This has to be beaten,” said Ciraldo, an Akron surgeon, at the pink plastic podium. By participating in the Komen event, “You’re showing you’re not victims. You’re survivors.”
He said he knows well the constant battles that breast cancer patients face. He choked up as he recounted his late wife’s losing battle.
But the disease can be beaten, and many of the participants testified to that.
Forty-four friends and family members turned out to support Joanne Mayors, 56, of Bath Township on “Joanne’s Juggernauts.”
She learned about her breast cancer in November through a routine mammogram and since has had a lumpectomy and radiation.
Late in June, she got good news.
“The mammogram was normal. The rest we’re not sure of,” her husband, Dean, also a local surgeon, piped up cheerfully. Daughters Laura, Rebecca and Lindsay also walked to support their mother.
Mayors said the diagnosis has made life a little better in some ways.
“It makes you take life a little slower,” she said. “Those weeds that are getting taller, they don’t mean as much anymore. You have a whole new view.”
That new view can last some time.
Helynn Terrell, 72, of Canton was diagnosed with breast cancer at 52 when her infant grandchild accidentally hit her breast and she discovered a lump.
She marked 20 years as cancer free at the Akron walk and looks forward to more of the same.
“I’ll see you again in 20 years,” she said to another survivor.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.