Breast cancer walkers put step 'n their stride

October 23, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD


Survivors and breast cancer supporters walked hand-in-hand for Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley's 16th annual Step 'n Stride.

The five-mile walk was held Saturday morning at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation and Community Center. The money raised will sponsor free mammograms for low-income women and other programing, Executive Director Joan Fell said.

Bringing in more than $64,000, the organization's yearly fundraiser fell short of its $70,000 goal, Fell said. Late donations could put the organization closer to its goal. Fell said the cold, wet weather probably affected the low numbers.

But rain and wind didn't stop the nearly 500 walkers from circling the campus grounds.

Bobbie Niklewiski of Hagerstown said she's been coming to the walk for the last 10 years. She said on a scale from one to 10 - 10 being the worst - the weather conditions were a "two."


"There've been windy days and cold ones," Niklewiski said. "This is nothing. It's not that bad."

Niklewiski, like many of the walkers, never has had breast cancer, but knew someone diagnosed with the disease.

First-year participant Tiffany Charley of Hagerstown said she was walking in honor of her co-worker's wife. She was joined by two friends from Detroit and Texas.

"It's not like the disease picks and chooses who it will affect," Charley said. "You never know if you will get it. Life is short. That's why I support it."

Breast cancer survivors also joined the ranks of walkers, many hoping to spread the word about early detection.

"I'm a seven-year breast cancer survivor," said Sandy Huntsberger of Hagerstown. "This is my way of repaying the Breast Cancer Awareness group for supporting me during my time."

Huntsberger's treatment included a mastectomy, four months of chemotherapy and 36 radiation treatments, which left burns on her body.

Huntsberger said even though her cancer is gone, there still isn't much comfort.

"Any pain that I get anywhere makes me think that it could be cancer coming back again," Huntsberger said. "It's always in the corner of your mind."

Huntsberger said early detection is the key to prevention. Doctors recommend women older than 40 get yearly mammograms.

"It's a little discomfort, but it doesn't hurt as much as cancer," she said.

There also were the survivors, such as Terri Callamari of Smithsburg, who has lived through cancer twice.

"You never think you're ever going to get it," Callamari said. "I mean, I was in shock."

Callamari, adviser for the Smithsburg High School Future Business Leaders of America, rounded up 17 of the organization's student members in Washington County. The group walked in her honor.

Several athletes from St. Maria Goretti High School came to support their friend's mother, who recently was diagnosed with the disease.

"Anyone can get it, it's so common now" said sophomore Erica DiMercurio of Hagerstown.

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