This Saturday, thousands of participants will gather at Military Park to take part in Race for the Cure, Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana’s annual fundraiser to raise money and awareness toward the fight against breast cancer.
Among the crowd will be Pamela Martin, an elementary school teacher and breast cancer survivor who can personally attest to the magnitude of this event’s impact in Indy. Martin was teaching her second grade class when her doctor called and told her that a lump discovered during a routine examination was cancerous. Martin says the diagnosis didn’t burden her at the time because she was preoccupied with teaching her students, but she broke down the moment she had a minute to herself.
“My lump was close to my chest wall, so if I had been relying on a self-examination, it would have been larger before I would have noticed. It was only picked up because of a mammogram,” said Martin.
Martin underwent a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy to treat her cancer, which was tough on her body and took away a lot of her energy.
“At first I was like, this is nothing, but by the third day it hit me. It was my first experience with how tough the treatment could be,” said Martin. “They told me I was going to lose my hair, which was a big thing for me. In the African-American community, our hair is pretty important to us. My hair fell out on Christmas Day in 2015, while I was taking a shower and shampooing my hair. I was running my fingers through it, and handfuls of hair came out. That’s a day I will always remember.”
Despite the treatment’s side effects, Martin pushed through and stayed positive. She completed treatment in February of 2016, and slowly both her energy and hair came back. Today, Martin is an ambassador for Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana.
Natalie Sutton, executive director of Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana, says about one in eight women will face breast cancer. The money raised in this Saturday’s race will help support women like Martin in numerous ways.
“We are helping people right now with what they need today in our community, and we are helping people tomorrow by funding breast cancer research that’s going to make treatment better in the long term,” said Sutton. “The majority (of the money) stays right here in the local community. We fund grants to local breast health programs that provide people with screenings and diagnostic services. We provide patient navigation services so that once someone is diagnosed they will have someone to walk them through the whole journey, and make sure you finish treatment successfully. We also fund breast cancer research.”
Sutton says they raised about $1.1 million last year, and they hope to meet or exceed those numbers this year. She encourages participants to fundraise beyond the ticket price.
“Fundraising sounds intimidating to someone who has never done it before, but it’s not something to be shy about. The No. 1 reason people give is because someone asked them to. I recommend emailing friends and family, posting on social media and Facebook. It’s really easy. You think that it’s a lot of work, but really you can do a few simple things to ask people to support you,” said Sutton.
With the statistic in mind that African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, Martin would like to encourage the Black community in particular to support the cause.
“It’s a wonderful organization, and I encourage the African-American community to come out and support this, because Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a much later stage. I truly want our community to understand how important it is to get involved with their health, because no one is fighting this alone,” said Martin.
Adult registration for Race for the Cure costs $35 through April 28 and $40 on race day. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29th. The race starts at 9 a.m. Individuals and teams may register for Race for the Cure at the race location (Military Park) or online at info-komen.org.