Some days the drugs she takes to treat her stage one breast cancer keep Heather McDonnell in bed.
But on Saturday, the 32-year-old Spokane woman felt strong enough for an outing to the 2010 Spokane Women’s Show at the Spokane Convention Center.
And she was glad she did.
McDonnell enjoyed an aromatherapy massage offered by one of dozens of vendors at the fair and expo, held in advance of Eastern Washington’s fifth annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Thousands will take to the streets downtown this morning to complete a one-mile or five-mile walk or run in support of breast cancer research and prevention.
In addition to browsing Saturday, race participants picked up their T-shirts and race numbers, all the color pink – the signature color of the breast cancer awareness campaign.
“Just to have so much support in the community, it helps you with those days when you are so down, and it’s just you and the bed,” McDonnell said.
As race participants checked in, there was no shortage of stories of survival, triumph and loss.
“Cancer strikes so randomly,” said Sue LaRue, a three-year breast cancer survivor. Since her diagnosis, LaRue’s co-workers from Banner Fuel have participated in the race in her honor, on a team called “Banner Breast Friends.”
LaRue, 61, and her sister, Judy Palmer – both survivors – volunteered to hand out race packets to survivor participants in the race today. The breast cancer survivors will lead the race as it begins at 9 a.m., and will pose for a survivors photo.
“It’s just so overwhelming, they make you feel so special,” LaRue said. “It gives us hope.”
Last year was the largest race to date, officials said, with more participants expected this year. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was formed by Nancy Bichtner, the younger sister of Susan Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36.
Two years after Komen’s death, Bichtner created the foundation, which has raised more than $1 billion in the past 28 years.