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Published: Sunday, 9/19/2010

<br>Cancer survivor's baby a symbol of hope

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Soon after Paula and Dave Prediger decided to get medical help to have a child, doctors discovered that Mrs. Prediger, who then was 40, had breast cancer.

The Springfield Township physical education teacher began treatment for what would end up being not just one but two rounds of breast cancer.

First, though, Mrs. Prediger had some embryos frozen. And on Sept. 26 - after surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple attempts at becoming pregnant with implanted embryos - she and their 6-month-old son, Kody, plan to participate in the Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure.

"I tell him he's my miracle baby every day," said Mrs. Prediger, 45, whose mother was 52 when she died of breast cancer.

"It was a long haul and a long road," she said last week. "But the physicians didn't give up, and I didn't give up. I think that's what breast cancer does. It makes you more determined."

Mrs. Prediger, a longtime Komen supporter, and her drive to have a child after treatment are inspirations for others battling breast cancer, said Mary Westphal, executive director of Northwest Ohio Affiliate Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

"For people with breast cancer, you really think this is not going to be an option in your life anymore," Ms. Westphal said. "It's a huge symbol of hope."

Race organizers hope to surpass last year's turnout of 18,129 participants and $925,000 in donations, Ms. Westphal said. Times are tough, but the community is a big supporter of the race, which is in its 17th year, she said.

Participants packed Summit Street in Toledo for the 2009 race. Organizers hope to surpass last year's turnout of 18,129 and $925,000 in donations.
Participants packed Summit Street in Toledo for the 2009 race. Organizers hope to surpass last year's turnout of 18,129 and $925,000 in donations.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"Our goal is to always get better," Ms. Westphal said. "We would love to see us hit the million-dollar mark."

Of the money raised, 75 percent is used for breast cancer treatments, screenings, and other services in 24 northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan counties, Ms. Westphal said. The remaining 25 percent goes directly to research on the national level, she said.

Mrs. Prediger first began participating in Komen as a runner 15 years ago in memory of her mother, Sandra Hotmer of Toledo, whose death in 1988 made her conscientious about breast health. Her first race as a survivor and walker was in 2005, less than a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer that would recur in April, 2006.

Months after the recurrence was discovered and treatment began, Mrs. Prediger ran again in the race as a survivor and came in second among them, earning a trip to Washington for the national race.

"I trained to run in the Race for the Cure," Mrs. Prediger recalled of the months after the cancer recurred. "It was tough, but I forged through."

Getting pregnant with Kody was another challenge for Mrs. Prediger, who teaches physical education at Toledo Christian School and coaches field hockey at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Both breast cancer and advancing age were working against her, but after clearance by her doctors and several attempts, she prevailed and walked in the race while pregnant last year.

Nearly a decade after his parents started planning for a family, a healthy Kody was born on March 18. He weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long.

"I knew that I always wanted to be a mother," Mrs. Prediger said. "You get to a point where you think, 'Why is this not working? Is it ever going to happen?'"

She added, while gazing at Kody in the arms of her husband of 16 years, "God has a plan for each of us. I truly think God had planned him for us."

For his part, Mr. Prediger said he didn't think about whether he would have a child participating in the upcoming race.

"I didn't quite know if Paula would be around to run in the race," admitted the physical education teacher at Maumee Valley County Day School, where he is also the varsity soccer coach.

Mr. Prediger will race in the five-kilometer run as usual. Mrs. Prediger and Kody, dressed in a race T-shirt made by her field hockey team, will be on the 5-kilometer walk.

"I want to walk this year so I can walk with Kody," Mrs. Prediger said. "Even though he might not remember it, I will - but I will be back to running next year."

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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