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Making Strides Walk raises nearly $500,000 for breast cancer causes

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Roughly 350 teams and 15,000 walkers raised more than $492,000 Saturday morning during the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Canalside.

The Scanlon Walking Matters team was among the teams. Several family members and loved ones donated to the cause organized by the American Cancer Society.

“The event was a moving example of passion in action,” said JoAnna Jacob, senior marketing manager with the Cancer Society’s Buffalo affiliate. “Our walk ensures no one faces breast cancer alone, by bringing the community together, funding innovative research, and providing comprehensive patient support to those who need it most.

It was the first breast cancer walk I’ve attended. It won’t be the last – though I know I will need to work harder to wear pink next time. The audience seemed less than impressed when I rolled up my left Ireland jacket sleeve to show my pink bracelet. I hope that the words I shared with those gathered hit a meaningful mark.

Below is the prepared text, though I shortened it somewhat for brevity’s sake:

The Scanlon Walking Matters team included, from left, Karen Gelia, Kristin Gelia, Bonnie Dagonese, Ellen Beiler and Mary Dagonese.

The Scanlon Walking Matters team included, from left, Karen Gelia, Kristin Gelia, Bonnie Dagonese, Ellen Beiler and Mary Vrenna. Vrenna, as well as Karen Gelia, are breast cancer survivors.

As the editor and local writer for WNY Refresh, the Saturday morning section in The Buffalo News that focuses on health, fitness, nutrition and family, I’ve had the blessing to meet people of great determination who have confronted breast cancer head-on:

Mercedes Holloway Wilson, diagnosed at age 28 after two doctors had told her to ignore a small lump in her breast because she was too young to have breast cancer, and who started an outreach program, called For Our Daughters, to improve body and health awareness for teen girls and young women.


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Sara Szeglowski, who began her battle with Stage 2B breast cancer four years ago at age 38, when her son was only a year old, and shared her story in last week’s Refresh section about how she has addressed lingering symptoms from her disease and treatment.

Kelli Cravey, who as a teenager witnessed her mother fight a four-year battle with triple-negative breast cancer, and opted to undergo a double mastectomy last year, after she learned she carries the BRCA 1 gene mutation and was at high risk of developing breast cancer herself.

It is my privilege to share these stories. They always hit home with me.

My mother, Shirley Scanlon, was diagnosed in 1979 with late-stage breast cancer.

Doctors told her she had six months to live. She had a mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. She lived for six years. She was 45 years old when she died on Thanksgiving Day, 1985; I had turned 25 four days earlier.

My fiancée Karen Gelia – who is here today – was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer nine years ago. She had a lumpectomy and radiation, and has gracefully handled some of the survivorship symptoms I wrote about last weekend in the Refresh cover story.

Early diagnosis is key when it comes to all sorts of cancer. I’ve seen this in my life experience and work experience.

I also expect genetic testing will become more important when it comes to cancer prevention in years to come. I will have a story about that in next Saturday’s Refresh section.

Meanwhile, as someone who has marveled, and worried, as loved ones battled through this challenging disease, let me share my view as a family member – because I believe many others here  this morning share it.

To the breast cancer survivors walking this morning, we admire your courage. We admire your grace. We are so glad you are in our lives.

You rock – and we love you.

Making Strides Walk participants stroll past The Buffalo News building near Canalside.

Making Strides Walk participants stroll past The Buffalo News building near Canalside.

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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