American Cancer Society makes strides against breast cancer at annual walk

Mercedes Johnson, a breast cancer survivor, holds up a sign during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton event on Saturday. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Mercedes Johnson, a breast cancer survivor, holds up a sign during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton event on Saturday. Eileen McClory / Staff

About 5,000 people gathered in Island MetroPark downtown on Saturday to join in the fight against breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides event for Dayton and Springfield was expected to raise about $200,000, said Lenora Oeters, executive director of southwest and central Ohio for the American Cancer Society.

She said the money will go to breast cancer research, patient support programs, advocacy for cancer patients and breast health equity programs.

“This is really a chance for everyone who is currently battling or has battled to celebrate either their survivorship or remember and honor those loved ones that they have lost,” Oeters said.

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Participants walk in Island MetroPark on Saturday during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton walk from the American Cancer Society. Eileen McClory / Staff

Participants walk in Island MetroPark on Saturday during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton walk from the American Cancer Society. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Participants walk in Island MetroPark on Saturday during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton walk from the American Cancer Society. Eileen McClory / Staff

She noted that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. in their lifetimes. That means spreading awareness about getting preventative care like mammograms is imperative, she said. Premier Health was at the event and offered mammograms nearby.

Oeters noted there was up to a 90% reduction in cancer screenings through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“While COVID has been happening cancer hasn’t stopped,” Oeters said. “So we really need to make sure that one we’re taking care of patients that are currently diagnosed, but too, that we are reminding people to get screened, get checked out.”

Last year, the event was virtual. This year, the American Cancer Society encouraged people to wear masks and held a staggered start time for the walk so that not everyone was walking through the park at once.

Kate Beck, a Centerville resident and survivor of breast cancer who attended the walk, said she had gotten a mastectomy in May. She found a lump in March, she said, and thought initially it was a cyst.

“It was scary,” Beck said. “I’m only 35.”

She said other survivors, hope and faith got her through the treatment as she took it one day at a time.

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A group of women poses for a photo during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton event on Saturday. From left to right: Sharon Silverberg, Terri Gibble, Julia Quinlan, Marianne Requarth and Kate Beck. Eileen McClory / Staff

A group of women poses for a photo during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton event on Saturday. From left to right: Sharon Silverberg, Terri Gibble, Julia Quinlan, Marianne Requarth and Kate Beck. Eileen McClory / Staff
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A group of women poses for a photo during the Making Strides of Greater Dayton event on Saturday. From left to right: Sharon Silverberg, Terri Gibble, Julia Quinlan, Marianne Requarth and Kate Beck. Eileen McClory / Staff

Lauren Garrison, an elementary school counselor from Chicago, came to the walk to support her daughter, Grace Garrison, who is a member of the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha at University of Dayton. Zeta Tau Alpha raises money to prevent and treat breast cancer as an organization.

Garrison said she went through chemotherapy for breast cancer while her daughter was a junior in high school.

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“Because I just completed my treatment two years ago, it’s still very fresh in our lives,” Garrison said.

She said people in her community signed up to bring her family dinners during her treatments, which she said was extremely helpful.

Garrison encouraged current cancer patients to feel their feelings and not be afraid to accept help.

“I would say you’re gonna feel a gamut of emotions and feel what you’re going to feel and take it one day at a time,” Garrison said. “Just moving forward, one day at a time.”

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