Making Strides on the Treasure Coast

Oct 11, 2018

Theresa Woodson and Linda Miller
Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this means a wave of pink tutus and bejeweled brassieres will be rolling through the Treasure Coast for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer annual fundraising walk.

“It is an awareness walk. It’s a family event. It is not competitive. It is truly a celebration.”

That’s Theresa Woodson, senior manager with the American Cancer Society of the Treasure Coast. We met up with her at Riverside Park in Vero Beach, the site of the first Treasure Coast walk this Saturday October 13.

The purpose of the 3-5-mile walk is to raise awareness and funds to save lives from breast cancer. You don’t have to, but most walkers put together outrageously fun pink costumes to wear. The events raise money to fund innovative research, provide free information and support, and to help people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it's most treatable.

Woodson describes what a woman with stage 4 breast cancer recently told her...

“I just hold on to the hope that if this drug stops working that all those people who have been walking and raising money will have raised the money for the next drug that takes its place and gives me another year, and another year. And another year.  So that’s why we do what we do.”

Sea Coast Bank is the presenting sponsor for all three walks on Treasure Coast. Port St Lucie’s walk is Saturday October 20 at First Data Field at Mets Stadium, and Martin County walks on Saturday October 27 at Memorial Park. Sign in for all three walks is at 7 am.

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its where we talk very often about mammography and doing the proper screenings and things of that sort. But really the message by and large is for people to be aware of their bodies whether it is breast or any other part of your body. And when things don’t seem right find out why.”

That’s because early detection is literally a lifesaver.

“With early detection we are seeing 99% survival rate! It’s that later detection that changes the story dramatically. Do not wait. Since 1990 there have been 39% fewer deaths from breast cancer.”

Joining us to talk about this is 2-time breast cancer survivor Linda Miller.

Miller was first diagnosed when she was 29, and then again 7 years ago.

“Yeah. It does come back. I had gone to my annual exam when I was 29 and my mother was a breast cancer survivor. And so, the doctor paid a little more attention to me than he might have. And he felt something.”

After waiting a few sleepless nights, she went in for the biopsy. It was stage 1 breast cancer.

“I said will this kill me?  And the oncologist looked at me and goes, Linda, little tumors become big tumors and big tumors kill.”

Miller opted for a mastectomy and in those days, they didn’t follow it with radiation.

“Fast Forward to when I am 56!”

The cancer had come back. This time she had a lumpectomy and radiation and is now cancer-free.

“I encourage my friends – I encourage people I don’t know – to get out there and I don’t care what month it is – of course October is the greatest month to spread that word but get it checked out.  And do something about it. And do not wait. Because if I had waited, I would not be having this conversation with you today.”

If you haven’t signed up yet for the walk this Saturday October 13 in Indian River County, you can still show up at 7 am to register and walk!

I’m Tania Ortega-Cowan. 88.9 FM. NPR for the Treasure Coast.