member in the news
Race for cure faces slowdown in entries
By MARGA LINCOLN Independent Record | Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 12:20 am
If you go ...
What: Late registration for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, May, 18, Capital City Health Club
6 to 8 p.m., Friday, May 18, Bleachers, 361 N. Last Chance Gulch
7 a.m. Saturday, May 19, State Capitol north lawn
Cost: $30 adult, $12 child
Montana’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure registration numbers were down 30 percent as of Thursday afternoon, a decline due in part to recent political controversy.
So far, there are 2,400 registrants, officials said Thursday. A typical year would have 4,000 to 4,500 showing up on race day.
Nancy Lee, executive director of the group’s Montana affiliate, attributes the decline to the decision at national headquarters earlier this year to sever Komen’s ties with Planned Parenthood.
Although the decision was reversed within days, the damage was done.
The race starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the State Capitol.
Race for the Cure registrations are taking a hit across the country, Lee noted, with some organizers reporting the worst registration numbers they’ve seen in a decade.
“I was very disappointed with the decision the headquarters made,” Lee said. “The fallout since January has been very difficult. It’s really been a no-win situation.”
Nineteen of 124 Komen affiliates funded breast exams at Planned Parenthood clinics, she said. These were in urban areas that had no affordable health clinics for low-income women.
“We have had a positive relationship with Planned Parenthood in Montana for years,” she added. “We both serve clients in need.”
The race helps raise money for grants to health organizations providing breast cancer screenings, education and outreach. A major focus of the 2012 Montana grants is service to rural Montana women and Native American women on Indian reservations. If fundraising suffers, there is less money for these types of grants.
Lee said it’s unlikely the Montana group will meet its race fundraising goal of $80,000 this year because of the drop in support. Thursday afternoon they were at $45,000, 56 percent of the goal. The totals reflect money individuals raise beyond their entry fees.
The Montana race, which is Komen’s major annual fundraiser, typically makes between $300,000 and $400,000 through sponsorships, merchandise sales, raffles, fundraising and entry fees.
“We need to focus on women, and we need to focus on educating them about breast health, and we need to stay out of politics,” Lee said.
One woman who has kept her eyes focused on the issue of fighting breast cancer is Marilyn Aberle, a cancer survivor who is this year’s coordinator for the race course, overseeing 60-plus volunteers.
Before, she was always one of the folks racing; this is her first stint as a volunteer.
“I’m a fairly recent survivor,” she said. She was signed up to do a 60-mile walk for Komen in Dallas, where she was visiting, when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Within two weeks of the diagnosis, she had a double mastectomy. It’s now 2 1/2 years that she’s been symptom free.
“Every day I wake up and it’s a great day,” she said. “That’s one thing you learn. One little thing like that, and you really appreciate life.”
Everything happened so fast, she said. “I never had time to get emotionally upset. I was so busy doing things for my health that were critical.”
For her, the emotional part hit six to eight months later. “When it does hit – wow!”
Not only was it powerful coming to terms with thoughts of her own death, but “Wow, I was one of the lucky ones.”
She decided to not have reconstructive surgery, she said. And being an upbeat kind of person, with a healthy sense of humor, she composed her own list of 10 Best Things about Not Having Breasts.
She was hunting for the list on Thursday, but a few that she recalls include:
- Men look you in the eye;
- You don’t have to lean over to see your feet;
- If you’re a golfer, nothing gets in the way of your swing; and
- It no longer hurts when she drives over a pothole.
“The wish I have for Montana is that everybody gets excited about the cause and excited about finding the cure,” Aberle said. “It’s an emotional disease and a physically difficult disease for recovering patients. I’ve seen a lot of communities where there is more enthusiasm, so I hope that we can start to generate higher awareness. We do great things for Montana women who otherwise wouldn’t get the help they need.”