Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pair of Brushes with Cancer Changes Woman's Thinking; Now She Is Sold on ACS Research

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pair of Brushes with Cancer Changes Woman's Thinking; Now She Is Sold on ACS Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, Clay County Line staff writer

When diagnosed with breast cancer, Susan Harrist of Eagle Harbor didn't want to be associated with the American Cancer Society.

"I had tunnel vision," said the 52-year-old who underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and shooed away a society representative offering help. "Breast cancer was not going to define me."

But in 2003, when diagnosed a second time, Harrist said she realized the American Cancer Society is working to cure the disease and to protect other women, like her 13-year-old daughter, Ellen.

Harrist spoke at a kickoff for Clay County's first Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk, which will be Saturday.

Since 1993, nearly 2 million walkers across the country have raised more than $100 million for research and patient services. Making Strides walks have been held in different parts of Florida but never on the First Coast until this year, said Therese Yanochik, director of the Clay County chapter of the American Cancer Society.

"The walk is showing the community that the American Cancer Society is here," Harrist said. "We hope for a big turnout so that people can see just how many are affected by this disease."

Walkers solicit pledges ahead of time. Breast cancer survivors will be honored with pink T-shirts, gifts, refreshments and prize drawings. The names of those who have died from the disease will be written on hundreds of pink stars on a "Tree of Life."

Survivors can register by calling 264-6039, extension 113.

This year, breast cancer is expected to strike more than 200,000 times and claim about 40,000 lives.

"I don't want my daughter to be running from this all of her life," said Harrist who also learned she could have saved money by getting free wigs, hats, bras and prosthetics by going to the Clay County chapter office on Kingsley Avenue. …

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