By Gina Martinez
The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Queens held a breakfast Tuesday at Resorts World in South Ozone Park to kick off preparations for its annual Queens walk.
Making Strides is the largest network of breast cancer events in the country. Every October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the group holds non-competitive walks that stretch up to five miles in cities all over the United States. The walk raises awareness in the fight against breast cancer, is open to anyone and depends on donations from participants, corporations and community sponsors. Walkers can participate individually or with teams.
Queens will host its walk at Flushing Meadows Corona Park Oct. 15. The walk is a major community affair, with thousands of men and women dressed in pink, the color of the international ribbon for breast cancer.
Since 1993, over 12 million walkers have raised more than $750 million. Those donations have gone toward promoting early detection, supporting patients with the breast cancer through multiple programs, and investing in breast cancer research.
Robert Fox, community development manager for the American Cancer Society, said the event’s main purpose was to educate and motivate.
“We have two goals: inspire local community members to get involved with the fight to end breast cancer, and arm them with the tools they need to do so.,” he said. “Attendees learned about the work that the American Cancer Society is doing to uncover better treatments for breast cancer, as well as free services that we offer to patients across the borough. They also learned about how to get directly involved in the fight to end breast cancer by becoming a team leader with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”
The kickoff breakfast was attended by both sponsors and survivors, who gathered to talk about their experience with breast cancer.
Survivor Marilyn Lewis, of Rochdale Village, was first diagnosed 27 years ago and has had a recurrence in the last four years. She was a team leader for 17 years.
“I found the cancer by self exam in 1990,” she said. “Five years later, our mom developed cancer, and even though I had had it, I called American Cancer Society for help.”
She said the organization had a program called Reach and Recovery, and a volunteer worked with her mother and answered all their questions.
“They were so helpful with our mother, so we started volunteering at the cancer office, doing paperwork or whatever was needed,” she said.
As part of Reach and Recovery, Lewis said she would speak on the phone with patients before becoming a facilitator for a support group in Little Neck for 15 years.
Fox said the event was a great chance for guest to hear directly from breast cancer survivors and network with top fundraisers and representatives from local businesses.
“It was an inspiring event that prepared our volunteers to take a leadership role in the fight to end breast cancer in Queens,” he said.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart