“The more pink, the better.” That’s Lisa Hoefler’s motto when she heads out to the annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.
Her fellow participants agree as the Dayton event, which brought together more than 6,000 walkers last year, is a sea of pink — from magenta locks to hot pink tutus.
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“It’s so inspiring, it’s really a celebration,” Hoefler said.
Hoefler has plenty to celebrate as it’s been 15 years since her most recent cancer diagnosis. The Dayton woman was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and, again, in 2003. She now wears the survivor sash with pride, walking with family and friends to celebrate her survivor status and support those who are in the midst of cancer treatment.
“I know how they feel,” she said. “But you find out you’re a lot stronger than you thought you were.”
Hoefler was just 38 when she was first diagnosed, after finding a lump in her breast.
“The first thing I thought of was ‘I have three little girls, how can this be happening?’” she said.
But those three little girls — now 32, 30 and 27 years old — gave their mom an extra dose of courage.
“I never wanted my girls to see how tough it was for me,” Hoefler said. “I never let them see me get down.”
The first diagnosis resulted in a lumpectomy, 12 weeks of chemotherapy and seven weeks of radiation. When her cancer returned three years later, there was surgery and 12 more weeks of chemotherapy.
“I was in the hospital when my oldest daughter went to prom, she came to the hospital in her dress so I could see her,” Hoefler said.
Now a grandmother of two, Hoefler will participate in the Dayton Making Strides event for the 13th time on Oct. 20 at Fifth Third Field. The Dayton walk is one of 200 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events held across the country. And Hoefler is one of the more than 1.2 million participants who helped raise more than $60 million last year. Hoefler will have plenty of company as local organizers expect to have 10,000 walkers and raise about $320,000 in Dayton this year.
“I’ve met so many inspiring women at these events,” she said.
An estimated 266,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 in the United States alone. And the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 40,000 women will succumb to the disease this year. But the 5-year relative survival rate for localized cancers is 99 percent. Hoefler has that statistic beat — three times over.
“It’s exciting to be in this new chapter,” she said.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
What: American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Dayton
When: Saturday, Oct. 20; registration begins at 8 .m., rolling start 8-10 a.m.
Where: Fifth Third Field, 220 N. Patterson Blvd.
Info: Visit www.makingstrideswalk.org/dayton or Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Dayton, Ohio on Facebook