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Published: Sunday, 10/4/2009

Race for the Cure is yearly reminder of why we wear pink

BY ROSE RUSSELL

THE energy was so electrifying on Sunday morning in downtown Toledo that I almost wanted to join in the running of the 5K Race for the Cure or walk the one-mile family walk for breast cancer.

But because I was wearing flip-flops, any long-distance trek might not have been a good idea. Yep. There I was downtown Toledo in casual clothes instead of in church in my Sunday best.

I went to be with Linda, my friend who, with a relative, is a breast cancer survivor. Silly me, though. In a sea of pink, from the palest to hottest, I forgot to wear that color, but Linda was gracious enough to let me wear her pink scarf.

Linda has participated in the Toledo Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure almost since its inception 16 years ago. During her 14 years of involvement, she has also been a runner. She has volunteered these last few years.

On Sunday, she handed out cups of water to runners and walkers, and since her grandson was there to help, I got to enjoy good company and conversation with them and others who stopped by to satisfy their thirst.

Funny thing about Sunday's race, in which 18,000 women, men, children, including infants and toddlers in strollers, were there.

Some women I knew, including those I knew who were breast cancer survivors and others I did not know who had had the disease and licked it. So in addition to Linda, I do a curtsey to you too, Rose, another woman I know, and to Renee, whom I met Sunday morning.

In fact, let me give a high-five to every woman who has struggled to beat breast cancer. But I also bow my head in honor of women I know, whose names are too numerous to list here, who have died from the disease.

And because October is breast cancer awareness month, it's a reminder about how important it is for women to do monthly breast-self examinations and to get yearly doctor's check-ups.

Breast cancer is the seventh leading cause of death among women in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the others are heart and cerebrovascular diseases, lung and bronchus cancer, chronic lower respiratory and Alzheimer's diseases, and accidents. Numbers eight to 10 are diabetes, influenza, and colorectal cancer.

In 2005 — the most recent year for which figures are available — about 186,500 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 41,000 died from it.

Though breast cancer is largely thought of as a woman's disease, men can be diagnosed with it, too. In 2005, more than 1,700 men were diagnosed with it and 375 men died.

The battle against breast cancer, then, is a family affair involving both genders. Everyone else must join the vigorous fight to find a cure for this disease that keeps ravaging the lives of women and their families.

So wear pink or a pink ribbon, and make sure you and your loved ones do monthly breast-self examinations and get checked by a doctor annually.

Your life, or the life of a loved one, could depend on it.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

Contact her at rrussell@theblade.com.



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