By: Olivia Bonevento, Lafayette College Alumna & Komen CSNJ Blogger
Over the last three years, I have had the distinct honor of being a Susan G. Komen CSNJ featured blogger. This position has put me in touch with many survivors and forever fighters, and it has given me the opportunity to share countless stories of strength and hope in the face of breast cancer.
The MORE THAN PINK Walk, an evolved event from the Race for the Cure, is something that I have looked forward to every year. The beauty, camaraderie and pure love that I have gotten to be a part of when I walk into Six Flags Great Adventure to start the day is unmatched. The survivors and forever fighters are some of the toughest and most insightful women and men that I have ever met. The eyes of the family and friends that stand behind them vividly shine with unwavering loyalty, support and love. The volunteers are passionate about what they do, wearing their shirts with pride and spending countless hours to ensure the success of the event for all involved.
This year, the event incorporated new and impactful changes. Instead of a race, the event had an inclusive community walk, and it focused on four core pillars that define the Komen mission: research, care, community and action.
These four pillars, with their components, make this event far more than a mission for one day: these components highlight that research, care, community, and action are all lifestyle choices we can make each day to “end breast cancer forever.”
Each participant waved a wrap high in the air, sporting one of the mission pillar colors, shedding light on their commitment and awareness to the Komen mission.
The research (purple) pillar has a goal of better detection, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer through the funding of research and clinical trials. The care (green) component has a goal of improving access to high-quality breast cancer services by the funding of patient navigators, along with providing under-served patients services and eliminating barriers to care. The community pillar (blue) has the goal of offering volunteer opportunities so we can match passion to movement, while the action component (orange) advocates for research funding, provides elected officials with accurate breast cancer information, and gather survivors and forever fighters together to honor and celebrate.
All of these elements are equally as important to the Komen CSNJ mission to end breast cancer forever. Yet, there is one underlying word that connects all of them: support.
Support makes research happen, just as it makes care, community, and action happen. When talking to survivors, support is always a central theme.
Renee Sorensen is one of the survivors I met at the walk this year. She is 10 years free of breast cancer, and is truly indebted to her sister-in-law Kathy for being her solid support system through her treatment. Kathy was undergoing chemo when Renee was diagnosed, and having her as an ally meant the world to Renee.
Blanche Owens and Sandra Corbin are both breast cancer survivors that belong to the same church in New Brunswick. Both women say that their church family is very supportive: there is even a church ministry for breast cancer with a collection of caregivers and survivors. They said that it is “truly a sisterhood”, and that “support helps you to recover and keep your spirits high through the many unknowns.”
Jenny Gonzalez, a breast cancer survivor of 10 years, is a single mother to her daughter Destiny. Her support system was especially important because she didn’t have a second income in the household and essentially had to raise her daughter on her own, all while going through treatment.
All of these women leaned on something or on someone to help them get through the day. The MORE THAN PINK Walk is something else that they can all add to their lists of supporters, for everyone involved wants to see a world without breast cancer.
The MORE THAN PINK Walk was a special day. It brought together survivors, allies and fighters.
We are truly all “MORE THAN PINK” — and our mosaic of colorful personalities is sure to make a dent in the breast cancer community and beyond.
Thanks to supporters like you, we are so close to reaching our fundraising goal of $625,000. Continue fundraising or make a donation and help us provide breast cancer services to women and men in our local community: www.komencsnj.org/25years