Hundreds gathered and cheered as breast cancer survivors, all clad in pink, paraded through The Meadows Shopping Center parking lot at this year’s Susan G. Komen Wabash Valley Race for the Cure.
The survivors, 84 in all, came in according to the length of time they’ve survived their common affliction. One-to-five year survivors lead the group while the 40-plus year survivors brought up the rear.
Sandra Mook, 75, of Terre Haute, was one of three 40-year survivors and has no problem calling herself one of the lucky ones.
Mook was just 34 when a routine doctor’s visit discovered a cancerous lump in one of her breasts and numerous cysts in the other. Doctor’s took both, Mook said.
“But to be honest I was never really scared,” Mook said. “I didn’t have to do a bunch of chemotherapy and lose my hair like so many do. I guess in that way it felt like any other surgery.”
From then until 2012, some 34 years, Mook lived cancer free. But it was in 2012 that Mook’s doctor discovered the once-dormant cancer was again active and had spread.
“I was kind of shocked, surprised. After all these years for them to tell me it came back …” Mook said shaking her head.
She said many of her days now are spent going on doctor’s visits for testing and subsequent results to manage what is now stage four metastatic breast cancer.
And while Mook brought up the rear of the Pink Parade, she wasn’t so far back as to not notice those new to the fight at the front. Those people, she offered, need to keep fighting with everything they’ve got.
“Some days are going to be hard, but you still have to pray and hope for the best,” Mook said. “Whatever comes will come, and for them, I hope it’s a good outcome.”
And it’s OK to be mad sometimes, Mook said, admitting that she at times asked why something like breast cancer happened to her and been a major part of her life for more years than not.
“But there’s a reason for going through what we’re going through,” Mook said. “You may never know the reason, but you have to fight it, help others in their fight let others know and be the best you can.”
Helping others in their fight is what Susan G. Komen’s Wabash Valley Race for the Cure’s host of events is all about, starting with the Tour de Komen on Sept. 27.
Dozens of cyclists, led by Indiana Pacer legend Reggie Miller and four acclaimed professional women’s cyclists, rode 100 miles from Fishers, Indiana to Terre Haute to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.
Started three years ago by Kyle Vannoni as another way to honor his mother, Peggy Vannoni, it has quickly become one of the event’s most successful fundraisers.
After the ride Vannoni took to the stage and let the hundreds in attendance know that if he has his way, breast cancer will never again take a life.
“Today, we beat breast cancer,” Vannoni said. “But together we can all beat breast cancer together.”
2019’s fundraising campaign has raised just more than $84,000 in an effort to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026.
Susan G. Komen Central Indiana serves 41 counties, including the Wabash Valley region. It hosts the annual Race for the Cure in Terre Haute in the fall and a race in Indianapolis each spring.
Of funds raised, 75 percent is invested in local programs that make sure breast cancer patients, and people at risk for developing breast cancer, get the help they need. Funds go for screenings [including mammograms], assistance with treatment, education and survivor support.
The remaining 25 raised goes for breast cancer research aimed at improving outcomes and treatment and finding a cure.
Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex.