North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Making Strides helps battle breast cancer

 

Christopher Andersson

Breast cancer survivor Dawn Hackett, from Marysville, left, sells items at her booth to help raise money for the American Cancer Society during the organization's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" on Oct. 17.

The "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" 5k run and walk for Snohomish County helped to raise more than $75,000 to support breast cancer research and patients.

The American Cancer Society event raises funds for many of the organization's programs and for breast cancer research in general.

"All the money raised will go toward breast cancer research and our breast cancer patients. So, if they need a wig they can get one, if they need a ride to their appointment they can get that, and if they need to do their makeup to make themselves feel better we can do that," said Chavvahn Gade, community manager for the event.

The annual event started a little more than a decade ago. This is the first year that a triple-digit number of teams came out to the event which included more than 540 participants and 200 day-of signups.

Survivors, caregivers, friends and family from all over the county came out to the event, including Marysville local Dawn Hackett, who was diagnosed with breast cancer about four years ago.

"I'm out here because I don't want to look into any more of my kids' eyes and say 'it's cancer,'" she said.

She said she is tired of seeing the pain that cancer causes and hopes that one day a diagnosis will not be as disruptive as it is today.

"When my granddaughter is an adult I want cancer to not be a death sentence," Hackett said.

For Hackett, dealing with breast cancer also meant dealing with something that could take away some of the basic symbols of womanhood like hair and breasts.

"When you're a woman and you're told they're going to take it [breasts] away, it makes you question you being a woman and everything about it," she said.

Although she struggled at first, she said, "your vanity goes away when they tell you 'if you don't do this you're going to die.'"

Hackett said she wanted to be around for her family.

"She [Hackett's daughter] was 16, she deserved to have her mom at her high school graduation. When I got to see her walk down the aisle I had no hair," said Hackett.

Gade said breast cancer has affected many who have similar stories, so she likes to see people come down for the walk.

"I love all the pink. It's amazing how much pink there is out here. Everyone comes out to support a good cause and they just want to help us put an end to cancer," she said.

Other participants like Kathleen Estabrook come out to support their friends.

"I know many people that have been affected by various forms of cancer, including Dawn [Hackett] and some of my other classmates and relatives," she said.

Estabrook said she has been to relays before and likes the camaraderie of the events.

Jerri Wood, mission delivery specialist at the American Cancer Society, said she likes to revisit all the people who she's helped.

"I like the energy and for me, I get to see a lot of the patients I help get services. So I get to see them five years later from that time before when I helped them get a wig, so I get to see they're still doing fine," said Wood.

Hackett said events like this helped bring her into the community. "I bleed pink now," she joked. She currently volunteers a lot of her time at the programs that are supported by events like the breast cancer walk, like Road to Recovery.

She's a coordinator for the program which helps cancer patients get rides to doctor appointments and she's helped organize more than 1400 free rides in Snohomish County in 2015 so far.

"I was lucky. I have a huge family and a huge support system. But when I found out that not everybody has that and they have to ride a bus to go get chemo or radiation, that broke my heart. So I started driving and then when they needed a coordinator I was so OCD organized they asked me," she said.

More information about the American Cancer Society and their events can be found at cancer.org. Those interested in donating to the local branch can send checks to 3120 McDougall Avenue Suite 100, Everett.

 

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