Race for the Cure looking to break million-dollar mark
By MEGHAN McCOY
The Southwest Florida Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure so far has attracted more sponsors and teams than the previous year.
Miriam Ross, executive director of the Komen Southwest Florida Affiliate said she is crossing her fingers that they will be able to raise more than a million dollars this year through the Race for the Cure.
The race is responsible for raising 70 percent of the money that is placed back into the community throughout the year.
“Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds stay in Southwest Florida,” Ross said, adding that the remaining 25 percent goes towards research.
“We are really a local organization and the priority is to help people within our community,” Ross said. “The corporate office has to raise their own money, so when we say that money goes to corporate it goes directly towards the research at corporate.”
Ross said they are among 13 percent of the non-profit charities in the United States who are a four star charities.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 3,415 people registered for the Race for the Cure, with those numbers increasing by the minute. Last year 9,600 people registered.
When the Susan G. Komen Foundation first began in 1982, Ross said there was a survival rate of 74 percent. Now that survival rate is at 98 percent if breast cancer is detected early.
“Now people talk about it,” she said. “Now people are aware of it.”
Ross encourages women to be aware of their risks and practice good breast health by doing self-exams and having their mammogram done every year because early detection saves lives.
After Susan Murphy found a lump in her breast, she went and had a physical done, which was then followed by calls to her doctor and appointments with a radiologist. In May 2010, she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 44. She explained since she found the lump early, they were able to remove everything.
Murphy has owned Hair FX Studio, located off of Skyline, for the past 11 years. Since it is a small business, she could not afford to purchase insurance for herself due to the cost.
She was referred to Dara Leichter with Lee Memorial Health System to fill out a grant that helped her cover the cost of having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
“Within one day I got the grant from Susan G. Komen,” she said, adding that Leichter was “wonderful.”
Leichter, breast health navigator for the Regional Cancer Center for Lee Memorial Health System said the grant, which comes from the local affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, covers surgery, diagnostic tests and staging, along with chemotherapy for men and women who are under insured or uninsured. For an individual to receive the grant they have to live in Lee, Collier or Hendry County.
“I took care of 50 women,” she said about the number of grants she was able to provide last year.
Although the Race for the Cure raised $915,000 last year, Ross said, unfortunately, it was not enough because grant requests from the community totaled $1.6 million. In 2009, the race raised approximately $900,000.
“It is difficult when you cannot say yes to everyone in need,” she said.
Leichter said Murphy qualified for the grant because she did not have any insurance.
“We took care of all of her chemotherapy… we took care of all of her treatment,” she said.
Leichter said without that grant funds she would not be able to help those women who are already devastated from their diagnosis of cancer and are terrified that they cannot afford treatment.
“That is what the grant has done,” she said , adding women now know that there is additional help out there for them. “We are catching things earlier…what a burden it takes off of their shoulders.”
Murphy said the grant saved her life.
“It is very scary out there when you don’t have anyone or any insurance,” she said. “This is a program that helps our community, which is awesome.”
Murphy explained that the hair salon has been donating money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the past 10 years.
“Never did I ever think I needed it,” Murphy said about the money she donated to the foundation.
She had a lumpectomy done and then began her chemotherapy treatments after she was diagnosed. Once the chemotherapy began, she had 20 hospital visits out of the 30 days in a month for six months.
Murphy has five more months of herseptin chemotherapy, which she has to do twice a month. She explained that type of chemotherapy is not aggressive, but rather acts as an extra boost with extra precaution for breast cancer.
She plans to participate in the Race for the Cure on March 12 at Coconut Point Mall with a couple of the hair stylists from her salon, her landlord from the hair salon, friends and her 11-year-old daughter.
She said her son, who was 19 when she was diagnosed has also been real good to her.
Murphy said she is helping 12 of her clients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer recently by walking them through what to expect. She explained that “they call it an army” because “you are healing the other cancer victims.”
She was named the Honorary Team New Balance Member Saturday as the survivor of the year for the Southwest Florida race.
For more information or to register, visit www.komenswfl.org