JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (NNS) -- Thousands of local breast cancer survivors, volunteers, businesses and community members walked together in unity to end breast cancer at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer five-mile walk from Ford Island to Richardson Field on Oct. 6.
Honolulu's Making Strides event, its fourth annual, is one of more than 270 events being held across the country this year by the American Cancer Society, involving more than 7,000 dedicated community members and raising over $215,000 in an effort to raise awareness and funds to help end breast cancer by finding cures and supporting programs and services for all people facing the disease.
"Making Strides Against Breast Cancer unites us all to walk together as the most powerful force to end breast cancer," said Jackie Young, chief staff officer of the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific, and a breast cancer survivor. "We are so thankful for how Honolulu has pulled together to encourage everyone to change the course of breast cancer forever. Making Strides walkers and supporters can be proud that their efforts are helping 2.6 million breast cancer survivors living in the U.S. celebrate another birthday this year."
More than 1,100 women in Hawaii will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and approximately 140 will die from the disease, and as a result of the American Cancer Society's effort's, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.
"Breast cancer has no boundaries, and this gathering shows the many faces that have been touched. Breast cancer affects all ages and touches the lives of everyone in some way," said Mary Johnson, a registered nurse and breast health educator at Naval Branch Health Clinic Hawaii-Makalapa. "I have seen first-hand the struggles that active duty members and their families endure when diagnosed with breast cancer. Military members must deal with the added stress of deployments, duty schedules, moves, children's reaction, separation, and concern for their jobs."
The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization headquartered in Atlanta which consists of more than three million volunteers with 12 chartered divisions, more than 900 offices nationwide, and a presence in more than 5,100 communities.
"The American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer and all cancers, investing the most in research of any non-government organization to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease," said Milton Hirata, director of communications, American Cancer Society, High Plains Division - Hawaii Pacific. "We're in every community, providing free information and services and ensuring access to mammograms for women who need them."
The funds raised through Making Strides will enable the American Cancer Society to continue providing free resources and support to newly diagnosed women with breast cancer who seek information and help, as well as investing in research to find, prevent, treat and cure breast cancer and ensure access to mammograms for women who need them.
"Cancer has made me more appreciative of things, and how to enjoy life a little bit more. I can't stress over the little things which we all tend to do because life is so crazy for all of us," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Vanderla Akaka, a breast cancer survivor since 2008. "I see cancer as a blessing, most people think cancer is bad, but for me it was a blessing because it made me realize that you have to take care of yourself, you can't take care of everybody else, you have to take care of yourself and enjoy life."
There were hundreds of American Cancer society staff members and community volunteers on hand setting up the course, lining the route, assisting the participants, as well as handing out water and snacks to participants as they crossed the finish line.
"A couple of our families' good friends, a daughter and a mom, they both were diagnosed with breast cancer less than 6 months apart, so I walk for them," said Jacky Chacon, a survivor and American Cancer Society staff member. "For me cancer was more of a rebirth; I found all of the good things that I was not taking advantage of in life."
Since 1993 nearly six million walkers across the United States have raised more than $400 million dollars to help in the fight against breast cancer through Making Strides Against Breast cancer events.
"I went to the American Cancer Society to see what support they offer. They gave me wigs, I got everything and it made me feel better, then I started volunteering, and now I am part of the staff here," said Joy Agni, a breast cancer survivor and this year's honorary guest motivational speaker. "Cancer has not only brought me awareness and shown me how to take care of my body, but it's helped me to appreciate the little things, just appreciate waking up and being here."
For more information about Honolulu's Making Strides Against Cancer or how to donate, visit www.makingstrideshonolulu.org, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
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