Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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In cancer fight, Toledo woman leads an army of 600 members

Jenny Sugg, a 29-year-old mother of two with breast cancer, will have an impressive force of support behind her in the upcoming Race for the Cure.

As in a group 600 members strong.

Typically, the largest team for the annual Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure comes from a business or organization. Mercy Health Partners, for example, often has the largest showing, with about 400 members the last couple of years.

But Mrs. Sugg, who has advanced, stage IV breast cancer, signed up more than 600 members to help raise money for re-search and increase awareness of the disease, creating the largest team in the Toledo event s 15-year history.

I want people to know that just because you re stage IV, you re not lying in a bed somewhere, said the Toledo woman, who is being treated for cancer that has spread into her bones, liver, lung, and other breast.

Her message? Don t look at me as a sick or dying person. I m trying to live my life.

Mrs. Sugg was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver in June, 2007, soon after her daughter was born. She, her husband, Mike, and their two children 5-year-old Jon and Sammy, 17 months recently moved back from Akron to be near their families as she gets chemotherapy.

Family and friends have been very supportive, the Suggs said, and at least 200 relatives alone are members of her team for the Sept. 28 event in downtown Toledo.

Among her Expecting Miracles teammates is her mother, Teresa Brickner of Toledo, who was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer but has been cancer-free for two years. They will remember her paternal grandmother, Marcella Brickner, who died of breast cancer in her late 40s more than 25 years ago, Mrs. Sugg said.

Her team had 210 members when it debuted last year, and Mrs. Sugg had a goal of getting 500 members this year, in part to show others that individuals could have the largest team. The Suggs, who were sweethearts at Central Catholic High School, reached out to fellow alumni too.

Just for us to hit 500, we were blown away, Mr. Sugg recalled. Then it kept going.

Race committee member Mary Chris Skeldon, a stage IV breast cancer survivor, said she doesn t know Mrs. Sugg, but joined her team after hearing her story at a meeting. Ms. Skeldon said she remembers how many people helped her when she was getting treatments.

I wanted to help her reach her goal, Ms. Skeldon said. A lot of people were touched by her story, and she s got a lot of friends.

The Sept. 28 race includes a timed 5-kilometer run for competitive participants, a 5-kilometer run/walk, and a 1-mile family fun walk. The downtown Toledo event starts with an 8:15 a.m. prayer service, and the opening ceremony begins at 8:45 a.m.

About 17,000 people the largest number to date are expected to participate in the race, up from 15,500 last year.

Mrs. Sugg s team already has raised $17,295 of the $100,000 in donations so far, and people have until Oct. 30 to get their pledges in, Mary Anne Durst, race chair, said.

Mrs. Sugg said initially, treatments eliminated the cancer from her liver, but the cells returned and spread elsewhere. She received a PET/CT scan yesterday to get precise and updated images of her body and expects good news before the race, a feeling she didn t have when she learned earlier this year the cancer had moved into more areas, she said.

I feel like I m going to get good results, Mrs. Sugg said.

Mrs. Sugg said she never guessed the breast problems she was experiencing could be cancer, much less cancer that had spread. She has since learned she has two hereditary breast cancer-causing genes, BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, and urged relatives to undergo genetic testing.

In case she loses her battle, Mrs. Sugg is about to self-publish a book, A Mommy Can Love You From Anywhere, to let her children know a butterfly and other signs are from her. Jon knows she has cancer, but Sammy is too young to comprehend, she said.

It happens when you re young, Mrs. Sugg said of cancer. When I was having the pain, I didn t think about cancer.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon or 419-724-6087.

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