Survivors, Fighters Share Stories at Annual Run for Women
More than 7,000 participants hit the pavement Saturday
ANCHORAGE - One in eight women in the U.S will be diagnosed with breast cancer: It’s a steep statistic that motivates both survivors and the newly diagnosed to band together, competing in the 20th Annual Alaska Run for Women.
In the Last Frontier alone, 470 Alaska were diagnosed with breast cancer last year and 70 women died from it. Saturday, a sisterhood of Alaskans young and old hit the pavement to support each other and fight back.
Using the ultimate team power, there's no doubt the more than 7,000 participants in the Alaska Run for Women are motivated to get bigger and stronger each year. Twenty years and counting, the race's message remains the same: educating, detecting, and researching breast cancer and making sure every woman knows she has someone standing in her corner.
Lisa Keller is a breast cancer survivor. She uses a combination of wisdom and humor to tell other women they can survive, too.
“I had a mastectomy and you can't even tell because my boobs are so small anyways,” Keller said. it used to be were they used to carve out your whole chest and now they just don’t even do that. Because of all this I’m going to see another 40 or 50 years, easily.”
They’re words Bonnie Jones and Debbie Hahn are hearing loud and clear with the help of their Alaska Run for Women teams. The recently diagnosed breast cancer patients are finding that people love them and are willing to join the battle.
“When I was telling friends and family about my diagnosis, they realized ‘I haven't had my mammogram in three or four years, I better get in,’ and I encourage that,” Hahn said.
Jones, a long time nurse at West Anchorage High School, said her diagnosis has made her better at her job. “Sometimes the difficult things in life offer us blessings,” she said.
Jones suffers from triple negative breast cancer, one of the worst diagnoses possible. It took a reminder from one of her students to keep fighting.
“She said, ‘Nurse Bonnie, remember what your bumper sticker says: Are you going to cowgirl up or lay there and bleed?’” Jones said. “I was like, ‘You’re right, I did say that my bumper sticker says that, and I’m going to cowgirl up.’ That's what I’m doing.”
Thousands of other women are doing the same, facing their fears and hoping to beat them. Hahn, a sales representative at PIP Printing, was pleasantly surprised when 20 family members, friends and customers agreed to be on her team. Jones has two separate teams running for her, including one called Bonnie's Posse.