Twowomen, one good cause

Published on Thu, Jul 6, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Two women, one good cause

By Tara Nelson

Two Blaine women will walk this summer to raise money for breast cancer research and prevention in the Northwest region.

Stafholt Good Samaritan events coordinator Laurie Hart will be walking in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life July 14 and 15 in Bellingham

Meanwhile, Blaine resident Teri Price, who has never suffered from breast cancer, will be walking more than 60 miles in three days for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Breast Cancer Three Day walk.

Price said she decided to walk after her mother-in-law and a close co-worker were diagnosed with breast cancer. Her father also died of colon cancer, she said.

“I lost 65 pounds over the last two years, so I wanted to do something to celebrate it, and this is the way I chose,” she said. “I am walking because I can and I care. It’s such an easy thing to do. There is some days that I don’t want to walk, but then I think there are some days people don’t want breast cancer but they don’t have a choice.”

Price said she has committed to raising $2,200 but has a personal goal of raising $4,400, which she says is $100 for each year of her healthy life. Price said she walks six days a week – often with her dog “Rocket” – and has walked enough miles to take her from Seattle to Redding, Calfornia.

“I walk everywhere. I have routes all over Bellingham, Ferndale and Blaine,” she said. “When I was on vacation in Texas, I walked every day even during hot weather. But it’s something that I want to do for so many reasons.”

To sponsor Price’s walk, visit www.the3day.org/Seattle06/teriprice, or call 961-2542.

Although Hart will not be walking the entire 22 hours in the Relay for Life, she will be collecting donations and walking the survivor’s lap, the first lap around the course around the Bellingham Public Library. She also said she plans to walk as much as possible, but because of recent treatment and recovery, she hasn’t been able to train as much as she would like to.

Ironically, Hart began walking in the relay in 2001, three years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I started walking years ago because my girlfriend was walking,” she said. “I got there at 5 p.m. and stayed there until midnight. I started for fun and then I kept going because a few of my family members had passed away. It was so awesome to see what people do to raise money for this.”

The next year, Hart said she was so impressed with the organization, she began raising money for other teams that were walking and bought bags for her grandmother and uncle, both who died from cancer.

Then, in January 2003, she went in for a routine mammogram.
“They saw something and they said it looked okay and to come back in a few months,” she said. “Finally, in November, they took a few more pictures and then they gave me an ultrasound and they said it had increased in size and mass.”

Doctors there told Hart to wait yet another three months, but Hart said she had a sneaking intuition so she got a second opinion.

“I immediately went to see Dr. Marta Kazymyra, who is my doctor and I told her I wanted a biopsy,” she said.

Almost before Christmas, Hart was certain no one would come to work to do lab work on her biopsy, but, as it turned out, they did. And Dr. Kazymyra just happened to come in on her day off to find the results waiting for her.

“When Marta called me I threw on my coat and ran across the street, across the ice and she said, ‘Well, yes it is cancer,” she said. “She was really great though. She said ‘If you have to have cancer, this is the best kind because it’s not really big and you caught it really early.’”
Hart was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma. A week later, she was scheduled for a small lumpectomy. Her cancer, however, had already spread to the lymphnodes, requiring a second surgery and nearly a year of chemotherapy and radiation.

“When the relay for life came around, it was the same day I had chemotherapy and because of all the medication they give you that make you feel sick. I walked in 2004 but I didn’t do any fundraising. It was really cool, though, because I got to wear a survivor medal,” she said.

In March of 2005, she finished all her treatments and “weened” herself off all the medications. When asked if she gained any new perspective by going through the experience, Hart said “absolutely.”

“It was a real learning experience because you really learn who your friends are and family are,” she said. “I also learned how to say noI was involved with a lot of the community stuff for years – I was on the parks board, I was voted in to the chamber of commerce, I helped organize the parade downtown – and I loved it. But I had to learn how to say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t.’” Now Hart said she just wants to make sure others have the support she had. She especially remembers the volunteers who came and showed her how to tie a scarf around her head when her long hair started falling out in clumps.

“Before I was just doing it because it was a good cause, but now it’s personal,” she said. “I don’t want anyone else to not have the chance to have someone show them how to put a scarf on.”

Donations to Hart’s walk can be made payable to the American Cancer Society, care of Stafholt Good Samaritan Center, 456 C Street, Blaine, 98230.