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They step to make strides against breast cancer

October 22, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN - When Brenda Grove left her doctor's office after a routine mammogram, she was told there was a 2 percent chance that the abnormality detected was cancer. Her doctor said he would call her the following Monday with the test results.

What Grove found out that next Monday in November 2004 was that she had breast cancer and it was in her lymph nodes, meaning she needed radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Grove's survival rate now is 85 percent, she said.

Grove, 43, of Boonsboro, was one of about 400 people who took part in Breast Cancer Awareness Cumberland Valley's Step 'n Stride event Saturday at Hagerstown Community College.

The event featured a five-mile walk around the campus, as well as indoor activities. Around $75,000 was raised - with all of the money to be used locally for breast cancer patients who live as far south as Winchester, Va., and as far north as Chambersburg, Pa., said Joan Fell, executive director of the Hagerstown-based organization.

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"I've always done this walk, but now I have even more of a reason," Grove said.

Walking with her was a neighbor - Freddie Reeder, who also is a breast cancer survivor.

"I just reached over there one morning," Reeder said, motioning to the left side of his chest, "and I had a pain. And then it went away, but there was a knot there."

Reeder, 62, saw his doctor and eventually had to have a mastectomy on his left breast in 1997.

Because the cancer had not reached his lymph nodes, Reeder did not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

After an operation on a malignant tumor earlier this year - a tumor that contained breast cancer cells - Reeder is being treated with hormone therapy.

Grove and Reeder shared their stories as they walked around Scholar Drive, which loops around the campus.

"I didn't even know men can get it," Grove said of breast cancer.

Reeder said he encourages men to check their breasts, and Grove also stressed the importance of precautionary measures.

"I look forward to my mammogram every year," Grove said. "Peace of mind. I'd have one every six months if I could."

Others participating were doing so in honor or memory of a loved one, including Danette Sigler.

Sigler said she was walking for her mother, Nancy Younker, who twice overcame breast cancer.

Wearing a bright pink jogging outfit, Sigler brought with her her excitable little dog, Sallie Kate, who wore a cape emblazoned with a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon.

Sigler lost two aunts to breast cancer, and said she also was walking in part for her two daughters.

"A cure. I hope they can find something," she said.

Fell said that the Breast Cancer Awareness Cumberland Valley event evolved over time into a walk, and is its biggest fundraiser.

The organization does early detection and post-diagnosis programs for breast cancer patients.

It can provide free mammograms and ultrasounds to those who meet income guidelines.

"Early detection of breast cancer is your best chance of survival from this disease," Fell said.

The organization also can provide prothesis bras, as well as wigs or hats to cancer patients, and emotional support. It provides gift cards so patients who do not feel like cooking can eat out at restaurants, has trained survivors meet with patients at surgeons' offices, and also coordinates support groups and other programs.

All of the programs are free.

For more information about the organization and the programs it offers, go to its Web site, www.hope foru.org.

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