Walking, running and sporting to find cure for breast cancer

It seems like every year I write a column about sports and breast cancer during the month of October, which, as we all know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I’ve written about the local Making Strides walks that have been so successful in raising funds and awareness in our region, both in Altoona and Bedford.

I’ve written about the amazing support the American Cancer Society has received from so many of the area’s teams, including high school sports for just about every athletic event you can imagine.

There have been stories about the Altoona Curve’s partnership with the Altoona Walk; the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign; the Penn State athletics’ Power of Pink mission, sparked by the Lady Lions’ Pink Out; and the Saint Francis Think Pink athletic events.

The pit road wall has even been painted pink during October NASCAR races, all as part of the effort to wipe out this devastating disease.

I wish I could say the story is old and there’s no reason to write another column about the battle against breast cancer, because the fight has been won. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.

Statistics show that one-in-eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives.

In the last year, I’ve watched a dear friend battle breast cancer, and another take her elderly mother to many breast cancer treatments.

I’ve watched communities rally around families who are dealing with the disease, and survivors counsel those facing a new diagnosis.

And unfortunately, I’ve seen new teams of walkers show up for the October events to support someone in their life who is facing off against cancer.

In sports, we’re always rooting for the big score – the win – the championship.

The tougher the odds, the greater the victory. It’s about time we finish the fight against breast cancer.

Imagine the day it’s defeated, opening the door to a cure for other forms of the cancer as well.

The celebration should be epic like the locker room of the World Series champions combined with the moments right after the final seconds of the Super Bowl, wrapped in a last-second buzzer-beater to win Olympic gold: champagne and confetti, cheers and smiles, and tears of joy.

But until then … for all of those who paint their athletic fields pink, who sell tickets, collect donations and hold auctions; for those who walk, or run, or play for a cure; for those who share their stories and help those we love get through the tough days – thank you.

Thank you for years of caring, hoping, supporting and fighting.

Thank you for getting our world closer to the day when cancer is history, and October is all about football games and baseball playoffs. And thank you for not giving up.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.