This year, nearly 1,100 New Mexican women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and another 220 will die from the disease, according to the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. To raise money and awareness for breast cancer research, prevention, treatment and support, members of the UNM Cancer Center have organized teams to participate in the annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
The 2009 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk will mark the 10-year anniversary of the event. Last year, more than 19,000 walkers in Albuquerque helped raise nearly $540,000 for the cause. This year, hopes are even higher as one team from the UNM Cancer Center hopes to make a significant contribution by raising upwards of $1500 through a Frito pie sale and other fundraising initiatives. “Our pharmaceutical representatives from Sanofi Aventis and Novartis donated drinks, and one of our patients, Karen Mager, is donating 300 brownies for us to sell,” said Jayne Holmes, Breast Program Clinic Coordinator at the UNM Cancer Center, who is co-leading, along with clinic technician Felicia Martinez, one team of more than 50 volunteers. “Our breast cancer physicians, Dr. Royce, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Russell, have joined our team. We all have such a strong commitment to our patients and everyone is doing what we can to support them.”
Faculty and staff from various departments, including people from administration and fiscal services, nurses, physicians and researchers at the UNM Cancer Center have so far formed six teams of walkers with the goal of giving back to the community.
“I think almost everyone, whether by a family member or a friend, has in some way or another been touched by this disease,” said Judy Mondragon, Senior Program Manager of the Multidisciplinary Breast Program at the UNM Cancer Center, and organizer for another Making Strides Against Breast Cancer team. “The American Cancer Society generously supports the UNM Cancer Center, and I strongly believe that it is important to give back.”
Money raised from the walk has benefitted UNM Cancer Center programs sponsored by the American Cancer Society, such as one-on-one support programs for breast cancer patients, transportation assistance, self-image programs, clinical trial searches, lodging assistance and online educational classes for people with cancer and their loved ones.
“This is a good opportunity to get involved in the community and raise money for a great cause,” said Abel Tarango-Prieto, another team leader from the UNM Cancer Center. “My mom is being treated for breast cancer here at the UNM Cancer Center. Some of the services she has received here are coordinated by the American Cancer Society, and they have been incredibly helpful. It’s so important for me to be involved with this cause, and to motivate other people to get involved as well.”
“Being a part of this event is important to me because it increases breast cancer awareness and acknowledges the many patients that have gone through their battle with this disease,” said Dr. Melanie Royce, Director of the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Program at the UNM Cancer Center. “It’s vital to recognize what breast cancer survivors have been though, and we want to encourage the rest of the world to pay attention to their breast health. We also want to show our support for the American Cancer Society, because they have been a great source of support for research and patient programs at the UNM Cancer Center.”
The walk will begin at Cottonwood Mall at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 26, and will continue along the Rio Grande until 10:00 a.m. For more information about the walk or to make a donation, please call 505-262-6027 or visit www.cancer.org/stridesonline.
The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 63 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D.
Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. Last year, the UNM Cancer Center served more than 7,600 cancer patients in more than 85,000 patient visits.