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Fund-raiser makes strides in fight against breast cancer

October 26, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Bekah Phares said her mother wanted to watch her walk five miles Saturday to raise money to help battle breast cancer, but Meredith Phares was home recovering from surgery in her own fight against breast cancer.

Bekah, 18, of Hagerstown, said her mother was diagnosed with the disease when Bekah was about 11 years old and relapsed about a month ago.

Meredith Phares had surgery Friday in preparation for chemotherapy treatment, keeping her from the 14th annual Step 'n Stride at Hagerstown Community College.

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More than 400 people walked five miles or did aerobics for two hours to raise an event record $53,768, said master of ceremonies Tom Riford.

Combined with the Reaching for the Moon fund-raiser at Milestone Farm in September, Breast Cancer Awareness - Cumberland Valley has raised more than $70,768, Executive Director Joan Fell said.

The money will be used locally to help pay for mammograms and ultrasounds; provide wigs, hats, turbans, bras and prosthetics to survivors; and for other local programs, Fell said.

The group started two new programs in September.

Dinner's Ready provides a restaurant gift certificate to a breast cancer patient once during chemotherapy treatment at the John R. Marsh Cancer Center at Robinwood Medical Center and at Dr. Hind Hamdan's office on Opal Court, Fell said.

The Moving Forward After Surgery program has a breast cancer survivor meet with patients after surgery, Fell said. The patient is given a bag containing a soft bra for use after surgery, a bra insert and a book titled "My Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook."

Saturday's event had people doing aerobics in the college's gym or walking around the campus, following a path of pink flags that bore the handwritten names of the participants and people they were honoring.

Bekah Phares was joined by friend Elizabeth Coleman, 18, of Williamsport. Coleman was there in honor of her great-uncle, George, and a friend of her mother's, both of whom died from breast cancer.

The girls designed T-shirts for the walk that read "Fabulous Duo" and "Walk Faster."

As a three-year breast cancer survivor, Barbara Gardenhour said she and other survivors worry about the increasing number of young women with breast cancer.

Gardenhour, 56, of Smithsburg, was participating in her third Step 'n Stride because she wanted to help raise money for women who cannot afford a mammogram, wigs or hats.

"Whatever they need should be available to them," Gardenhour said.

"Nobody else knows how you feel except another person who has breast cancer," Gardenhour said. "It's strange the way women with breast cancer feel. We have an attachment with each other and a concern for each other."

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