Local breast cancer survivor shares her story to help others battling the disease
A couple thousand people will take to the streets in downtown Toledo this weekend to help finish the fight against breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Walk presented by Kroger and Mercy Health is Saturday at Hensville Park.
The breast cancer numbers are staggering. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that death rates have been decreasing since 1989, but more than 40,000 women are expected to die from the disease this year alone.The goal of this simple walk is to change those statistics.
Melissa Paskvan is the honorary survivor of this year's walk. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, "The first thing I thought about was my son. He was 7 at the time. You hear that you have cancer and right away you think the worst. I just thought of my son growing up without his mom."
Melissa had a lumpectomy followed by months of grueling, but life-saving treatments, "I had three and a half months of chemotherapy, 33 radiation treatments. I was also put in a clinical trial as a precaution for bone cancer. The first chemo was awful. I was sick for about 10 days. My husband encouraged me to keep fighting, and I learned to take things one day at a time."
Through her darkest days it was the help of friends family and organizations like the American Cancer Society that got Melissa through. One of the most important things was a cancer support group, "They know what you are going through. We share stories, laughter and tears. We lean on each other to get through the journey."
The Making Strides Walk has also helped Melissa and countless others. Heidi Nafziger is a Senior Community Development Manager for ACS, "Every time the survivors step out to start the walk, I start crying. The event has such an incredible impact on so many lives."
The money raised in Toledo and at other making strides walks around the country goes to support research, "The American Cancer Society is the largest non-profit funder of cancer research in America."
The dollars raised also help support all the free programs and services the ACS offers. the programs include a wig bank, free rides to and from treatments as well as housing during treatment, "This is our 25th anniversary of the Making Strides Walk nationally. We just learned that the walk is the largest breast cancer fundraiser in the country."
The goal is to finish the fight against breast cancer. There is help and hope for everyone, "If you are un-insured or under-insured ask for help. There is a lot of help available in our community, you just need to seek it out. Start by calling the ACS at 1-800-227-2345."
The Making Strides Walk is Saturday morning at Hensville Park.
Registration is at eight. The walk starts at nine.
There's still plenty of time to get involved with the walk as well as all the other work of the American Cancer Society. We've posted links.