Mary Ann Bellissima, a survivor of cancer, waves her rose during the survivor recognition ceremony at the 2014 Komen Central Valley Race for the Cure on Saturday, Oct. 25. Darlene Wendels / The Collegian
By Nikki McCabe
There’s no finish line when it comes to fighting breast cancer. However, participants at the 16th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure fundraiser reached their goal Saturday at Fresno State.
Sharon S. Johnson, executive director for the organization, said it is important to have the event on campus. The fundraiser has been hosted at Fresno State for the past 11 years.
“Having it here has brought a lot of awareness,” Johnson said. “It also has helped build a lot of relationships with different departments on campus. From the NACCP club, to the sororities, the marketing department and the athletic department, we feel that we have a great relationship here.”
Johnson is a two-time cancer survivor and her husband is currently being treated for lymphoma. She encouraged all women to be checked by their doctors for the disease.
She also noted the youngest breast cancer survivor in Fresno is only 14 years old and stressed how important it is to receive support from people in the community.
“We want to continue programs where we’re funding free mammograms for women and men who can’t afford them,” Johnson said. “Also, funding lymphedema treatments, financial assistance to breast cancer survivors, patient navigation and we even have a hospice assistance program.
“In order for those programs to sustain and to expand, it’s imperative that we have support from the community.”
People who participated had the choice of running in the men’s or women’s 5K race or a co-ed fitness walk. The race began on Barstow and Woodrow avenues. Participants raced two laps around campus, and ran through a finish line near the Satellite Student Union.
Johnson estimated that 50 to 75 volunteers helped out during this year’s event.
Eric Frazer has been helping out for the last 14 years since his late wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Maggie Fraser had been active in the community and acted as the team’s chair for the event for four years until she passed away.
“She was involved in the race, and that is what she was really passionate about, and I couldn’t let that fail. That’s why I keep volunteering every year,” Frazer said. “Most of the people in the organization knew her. She was pretty wild. She left her mark. She was very passionate about the cause.”
Participants in the race, Diane Foster and Rebecca Lyles, are a mother-daughter team who have been attending the event for the past 10 years since Foster was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lyles said the diagnosis had blindsided her.
“She wasn’t going to go in, because she had been sick previously,” Lyles said. “She almost died from her procedure. Breast cancer had never run in our family.”
Foster said there are some cancers that can’t be found from a lump. Foster had a slow-growing cancer that could only be picked up by a mammogram.
“Always make sure you have your mammograms. Don’t think that you don’t need it, because a mammogram can save a life,” Foster said.
Lyles said even though she has moved out of state recently, she still plans to make the trip out to the event to be with her mom and show support at the event together.
“For us, it’s like a bonding experience between us. It’s important to my mom, and so I will continue to do it, because I know that that could be me someday, and I would want my support team.”