DAYTONA BEACH – It was not Raelene Blake's first breast cancer walk, but it was her first year as a…
DAYTONA BEACH – It was not Raelene Blake’s first breast cancer walk, but it was her first year as a survivor.
Blake, 43, Palm Coast, had an army behind her filled with family, friends and Target coworkers. They all dressed in gray shirts with a pink breast cancer band and “Team Raelene” printed on the back.
“It has been hard to fight,” said Blake. “But it made me stronger as a person and made me realize what’s important in life.”
What matters to Blake is the family – including her husband, two children and three stepchildren – friends and quality of life.  “When I first diagnosed, I was really worried about how my children would react and their future,” Blake said with tears in his eyes. “They were worried but they are doing very well with it.”
Survivors, supporters and volunteers penetrated the Riverfront Park grass to mark the 25th annual march through the city’s heart for the American Cancer Society’s “Fighting Breast Cancer Walk.” A welcoming 60 degrees kicked off the event, with more than 1
0,000 participants dressed mostly in different pink attire when they were emptied out of the park and on Beach Street.
Cities across the country are holding walks every year to raise funds for local cancer programs and research. Saturday’s walk increased 183 601 SEK according to the event’s website.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 252,710 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer by 2018. On the plus side, deaths from the disease have fallen dramatically over the last 15 years due to improved treatments and early detection.
This year, a focus for the American Cancer Society is access to care, according to Tenna Pappas, Area Program Manager for Mission Assistance.
“The main reason why cancer patients do not get care is because they can not get there,” said Pappas from his booth on the park. “We have a Road To Recovery program where volunteers provide rides to patients at no cost.”
Makayla Edwards, 19, a novice at Bethune-Cookman University, volunteered for a walk to support her aunt who is fighting breast cancer.
“The best part is to see the survivors,” Edwards said. “It has been very hard to look at my aunt fight so I wanted to do something to help the cause.”
Week Brady, 79, of DeLand, went out for a walk to support her wife Sheila, who had a double mastectomy seven years ago to get rid of two types of cancer in her breasts.
“The worst part of the whole was the 10-hour operation,” Brady said. “But that was the right decision. She’s in remission and she’s here with me.”
Sheila said that double mastectomy was an extremely difficult decision, but she had “no other choice”.
“If I wanted to live, this is what I needed to do,” Sheila said. She finally stopped taking the drug last year. “As we walk over the scene here, I get very emotional and know I’m not alone.”
For Shakia Moore, Daytona Beach, the walk is a way that she not only remembers her mother but also her dad. Both died of breast cancer.
“It was a lot of hard work that took care of them,” said Moore. “Many difficult nights feel I was an island.”
The American Cancer Society estimates that 2 550 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Although breast cancer is less likely in men, it still happens.
“It was a shock to both of us when we found out,” Moore said about his father. “He was the first man I knew who had breast cancer but we had a very supportive doctor who helped us through that.”
Both Moore’s parents went away until they reached 50 years. Her mother only went in 2002. It was not until a year later that her dad was diagnosed. He departed in 2006.
“He was a warrior,” said Moore. “He treated every day as if he were going to live.”
Moore has gone every year since her mother went and said it’s her way of not feeling like an island and giving her a sense of “community, support and encouragement.”