BALBOA PARK —
Lilian Vanvieldt was one of 9,000 people who came to Balboa Park for the 23rd annual Susan G. Komen San Diego Race for the Cure.
The race, filled with people wearing the color pink as far as the eye could see, intends to bring awareness that breast cancer affects about 1 in 8 women each year in the U.S.
Vanvieldt is one of those women and is a cancer survivor who also participated in the first year of having been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. At her first race event, she had been receiving chemotherapy treatment. She was losing her and her nails were turning black and she frequently felt ill and surprised by the fact that she had no family history of cancer, she said.
Attending her that first race helped her find discover a community of inspiring people who were also either going through treatment or had already endured the battle.
Vanvieldt said attending was meaningful to her because it was an opportunity to commune with others who understood what was happening to her and that she, in turn, could support other women. Seeing an array of people who beat cancer and realizing that death was not a certainty was critical to her mental health, she said.
This year thousands of people walked and ran either a 5k or one-mile courses and wore everything from tutus, and superhero capes to umbrellas and mouse ears all in the color pink to represents the breast cancer awareness cause. There were also lots of dogs wearing pink to represent “Pups for the Cure.”
Race for the Cure is the largest event of the year for Komen San Diego. Hundreds of thousands of dollars raised are used to find free services to detect breast cancer. Mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies as well as tests for early detection are part of the battery of tests used to arm with health knowledge. The funding also supports services for women who are currently living with breast cancer who require resources for rent or mortgage assistance, transport, childcare, meal deliveries as well as cosmetic needs such as wigs.
The money raised is also used to fund research and San Diego is a hub of that work. The Komen chapter is also a legislative advocacy supporter. They fought for a bill that helped make access to fertility preservation easier for women and men are undergoing cancer treatment.
The race this year raised more than $700,000 and efforts to raise more will continue until November 11.
The race is a pivotal strategy for raising not only awareness but also is responsible for research and treatment advances globally, said Shaina Gross, president, and CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego.
The organization is thankful for people who have supported the cause for the last 22 years. Their support has meant improved treatment, drugs, and better quality services, said Gross. It is an example giving back among people who understand and empathize, she said.
Hillary Condon is one among many examples of people who have had increased access to care from Komen in San Diego. At 36 years old, she found a lump and had already lost her employment and health insurance. But with the aid of Komen, she was still able to secure a biopsy, referral, and treatment. She is now cancer-free.
aBoth Condon and Vanvieldt say vigilance and being proactive about health is an important factor for fighting cancer.