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Since 1991, women have filled Cedar Rapids streets for the Especially for You® Race Against Breast Cancer. We would like to hear about your history with the race: Why and how have you been involved? Have you participated every year? Do you have a team story? Have any traditions grown as a result? Have you or someone close to you benefited from the fund?
Tell us your story. (Your story may be used for publicity purposes.)
Two thousand eight was a year that all Cedar Rapidians will not soon forget. The year of the flood. For me, the flood was about much more than water.
My husband lost his job in the floods of 2008. His employer, located on the first floor of the Cherry Building, was unable to fully recover from the destruction. Of course, this wasn't known immediately, so my husband began working for a friend doing home remodeling and flood reconstruction projects while waiting to see if his employer would be able to get things going again. In the meantime our income dropped pretty dramatically. I was a stay-at-home mom and we were tightening our belt any way we could, including taking me off my husband's employer's medical plan (His monthly premium was covered, mine was not) and getting a short term major medical policy instead. We hoped that given a few months, things would turn around, Jim would be back to work and I'd return to the regular medical insurance policy.
During this time I was due for my annual mammogram. Since my mother had had breast cancer a few years before, my doctor suggested I begin with a baseline mammogram and have annual check-ups. I almost cancelled that yearly check-up. The cost of a mammogram would not be covered by the major medical policy I knew and our expenses were already beginning to take their toll two months post flood. Ultimately, I just knew I needed to get it done. I asked the woman at the Mercy Women's Center registration desk about any financial assistance that may be available. I told her minimally, I would need to work out a payment plan. She explained the Especially For You fund. I filled out a form and was approved. The EFY fund paid in full the mammogram that I almost put off for next year. That was the mammogram that revealed cancer in my right breast and was possibly the mammogram that saved my life. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on September 29, 2008. I was 37.
Everyone at Mercy and throughout my cancer treatment was wonderful. My cancer was caught early thanks to that mammogram. I had a lumpectomy, followed by six weeks of radiation and five years of medication. With the support of my medical team, my family and friends and relying heavily on my faith, I came through that difficult time healthy and very grateful for the outpouring of support I experienced beginning with the Especially For You fund.
I have been a participant of the Especially For You race many years now. It has always been a fun event to do with friends, but the true purpose of the race came sharply into focus for me in 2008. Thank you Mercy Women's Center and Especially For You!
- Wendy Dickens
Watch Wendy tell her story at the 2013 Power of Pink Lighting event:
Kari Low has had plenty to keep her busy: work, taking two classes and planning her November 11 wedding. Preparing for that special day has been fun and exciting, but she found herself feeling a void in the midst of her joy. She was missing someone special who should be with her: her mom.
Judy Low, Kari’s mom, died of cancer in 1997, when Kari was just 22. Judy was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, and died only six weeks later.
Now, Kari, planning for her first marriage at age 36, found herself wishing for a way to include at least the memory of her mother in the wedding preparations. She found a unique way to do just that and also honor her mother’s memory: forming a team to walk in Sunday’s Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer.
"My sister and I talked about doing something to remember her but nothing really struck a chord," Kari explained. "But this race stood out. I decided this was the one way I could really honor her, this year."
All the better because Saturday night, the eve of the walk, was Kari’s bridal shower. There, she handed out her team EFY shirts to her girlfriends and sister, Laurel Feldt, who made up the 10-member team. The shirts are especially distinctive. They read: J Low & the Bridal Bachelorette Babes.
"I knew it was going to be an emotional weekend, that's for sure, but I was excited," Kari said, laughing at imagining her mother’s reaction if she’d seen those shirts.
But Kari knew that her friends and family – including her dad – would wear with pride those one-of-a-kind shirts, honoring Judy and helping raise funds for breast care services. It all fit, Kari noted.
"I just hoped when they saw all those thousands of people they’d realize I chose this race because of how much of a community event this is for Cedar Rapids," Kari explained, "and how much cancer touches all of us."
I have completed all 16 5K walks for breast cancer and I have all the t-shirts. The reason I got started walking was in July 1991, my special friend Lyn Taylor passed away from breast cancer. It was at the same time Sandy Knight passed away and the walk began. Lyn’s breast cancer was located where the mammogram did not detect it. She even had a bone marrow transplant. At the time, I was in a chapter of Beta Sigma Phi with her and our whole chapter walked as a tribute to her. Although I am no longer in Beta Sigma Phi, I have continued to walk in her memory. Over the years, I have had various friends walk with me.I am very fortunate that we have not had any breast cancer in our family.Norma Schmatt8/2/2006