More than 450 people walk for hope to raise breast cancer awareness
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Brenda LeJune never imagined she might have breast cancer until the moment two years ago when the doctor said they'd found a lump.
"I was totally shocked. Nobody in our family has cancer," LeJune said.
LeJune was lucky, she said. They caught the cancer early and she had the lump removed. A survivor of eight months, she's now going through radiation.
On Saturday morning LeJune donned a pink survivor visor for the first time and was one of more than 60 breast cancer survivors in Citizens Medical Center's Sixth Annual Walk for Hope.
The walk opened with a moment for the survivors. Clustered together, the group, with gripped hands and raised arms, sang along and swayed to the music, celebrating.
During a moment of silence, LeJune threw her arm around the shoulders of a survivor and held her hands up high with everyone else.
The cancer survivors took the first lap of the walk on he new walking trail at the Citizens HealthPlex, before a flood of participants joined them to finish it.
Participants had a choice of walking one, two or three miles for the event.
More than 450 people registered to participate in the walk on Saturday, the largest number of participants to date, event organizer Linda Braaten said.
Money raised from the event will be used to pay for $75-mammogram for women who can't afford them, Braaten said.
They've raised money to get 25 to 30 free mammograms donated this year, Braaten said.
Braaten said they focus on mammograms because early detection is key in fighting this disease, something she knows from personal experience.
When Braaten helped start Walk for Hope six years ago, she never thought she'd walk as a survivor one day.
A mammogram caught the lump in her breast, said Braaten, a two-year survivor.
After going through it herself, Braaten said having the support of family and friends is key.
"It's a battle. It's an actual battle, and just like a soldier wants the best troops on the field, people facing this need a lot of really good support.
"We just thought it would be a good way to do some charity. We know a lot of moms that have this so we thought this would be a good way to support them," St. Joseph High School student Jillian Strauss said as she walked along with her friends.
LeJune, a teacher at Victoria East High School, was supported by a cluster of family and friends as she walked her mile.
"All of these people supporting us with this is great. It helps all of us to see so many people doing this," LeJune said.
Braaten echoed her sentiments.
Seeing so many people out to support breast cancer survivors was incredible, Braaten said.
"This is amazing to see all of these people here," Braaten said.