Hundreds step up to support Breast Cancer Awareness

October 21, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

She always knew that breast cancer was a formidable foe. She had read the statistics.

But for Quincy Abrecht, breast cancer was somebody else's disease. Fourteen years ago, it became her disease, too.

"I was 28 when I was diagnosed," the Boonsboro resident said. "To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I thought I was going to die."

There had been no history of breast cancer in her family, no one to talk to about what to expect.

So she turned to Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley for help.

"They made sure I was all right," Abrecht said. "I was able to talk with other survivors who let me know I wasn't alone. By sharing, I began to learn there was hope."

Saturday morning, Abrecht was joined by more than 600 people who participated in Step 'n Stride, a fundraising event for Breast Cancer Awareness at Hagerstown Community College.


"I needed to be here," she said. "It's important to show others that you can survive breast cancer. It was also important to support a local organization that does so much good in our community."

The annual fundraiser included a five-mile walk around the campus, as well as indoor health exhibits and a tribute flag display.

Saturday's event raised $110,000, a record for Breast Cancer Awareness, according to Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Last year's event raised $93,000, said Joan Fell, executive director of Breast Cancer Awareness.

Proceeds will benefit the many free programs offered by BCA, including mammograms, a wig and prosthesis bank, information and support groups, and a toll-free Hopeline, Fell said.

"As of October, we have helped women with $52,000 worth of mammograms and ultrasounds - and that's just one program," Fell said. "So you see how important it is to raise money through such events as today's walk."

Fell said the organization, which does all of its own fundraising, has had tremendous community support.

"I think people value the free programs we offer - from early detection to after diagnosis," she said.

Saturday's five-mile walk began with a victory lap, led by more than 100 breast cancer survivors who wore pink feather boas and waved to a cheering crowd.

Ann McBee of Hagerstown, a seven-year breast cancer survivor, said she was overwhelmed as she began the walk - by what she saw and the emotions she felt.

"To be surrounded by other survivors who have fought this disease and to be acknowledged by so many people, I felt like I could cry," she said.

As a show of support, McBee was accompanied on the walk by her husband, Richard, who is legally blind.

"He wanted to be here," she said. "It means so much to me that he would do this."

Abrecht said the event not only raised money for a good cause, but raised the spirits of the many cancer survivors in attendance.

"It's a day where survivors can share their stories and meet wonderful people they might never have had an opportunity to meet," she said. "It's an important day for a lot of reasons."

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