On Sunday over 10,000 Inland Empire residents walked through the streets of historic Redlands to honor cancer survivors and victims and to raise funds for cancer fighting programs in the Inland Empire. The group raised $475,000 for local cancer centers and support programs. The walk, organized by Stater Bros Charities and Inland Women Fighting Cancer, is a community based, volunteer driven, grassroots event.
My brother Hardy and his family participated and joined thousands of friends, families, teams, and survivors for the annual event that began at State Street and traveled two routes – either 5k or 10k – through Redlands’ idyllic neighborhoods where participants were treated to live entertainment along the route.
In its seven year history the Inland Empire Believe Walk has raised more than $2 million for Inland Empire-based cancer fighting programs at Redlands Community Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, and St. Bernardine Medical Center that focus on providing access to quality cancer care, patient and caregiver support services, referral and resource information, and most importantly early detection and holistic care education.
My family is well aware of the importance of early detection. My sister-in-law Marcia, the mother of two young boys, an elementary school teacher, and resident of Beaumont, was diagnosed with breast cancer on the last day of school earlier this summer. She has given me permission to share her story to remind everyone of the importance of cancer screenings.
Marcia told me that she had a history of benign fibroid tumors in her breasts that her doctors had been observing over time. Last December, just shy of her 40th birthday, her doctor noticed an abnormality in an ultrasound and suggested a mammogram to rule out cancer. The mammogram detected little specks…no lump had formed yet…that a biopsy later proved to be cancerous. She hadn’t seen or felt any difference. By June she had surgery to remove one breast and is now cancer free. She credits the screening with saving her life and now identifies herself as a four-month cancer survivor. She spends two days a month in support groups with other survivors and has vowed to spread the message of early detection to everyone she knows.
Events like the Believe Walk serve multiple purposes: they raise much needed funds to support organizations and entities fighting diseases that plague our communities, they bring communities together in celebration and remembrance, and they raise awareness and provide a platform to share countless stories like Marcia’s so that others can be educated and informed and take action. Please see page 23 for some of the American Cancer Society’s Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer and photos from the 2014 Believe Walk in Redlands.
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