Five years ago, Sally Jardon’s world changed.
“When I got the call from the doctor that my biopsy was positive for cancer I was at work,” she said. “I went into shock and was kind of numb at first. I distinctly remember the sinking feeling I had in my stomach. I felt betrayed by my body and angry that this was happening to me.”
According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer like Elk Grove resident Jardon some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Today, there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
For Jardon, the diagnosis brought with it the painful reminder that both of her parents had died after being diagnosed with cancer.
“I was afraid I would die. I was also upset that I had taken hormone replacement therapy for 12 years before it was discovered that it increased the risk for the disease,” Jardon said.
Jardon’s first few months after her diagnosis were a roller coaster of emotions.
“I turned inward, reaching for the all the strength I could muster. I researched breast cancer, the types of treatments used, the benefits of exercise and a good diet. I became more spiritual turning to my faith for serenity,” Jardon, who attends a minimum of three Jazzercise classes each week, said.
It is similar research, education and access to services that the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer annual walks and events strives to promote and fund. Since Making Strides started in 1993, 8 million walkers across the United States have raised more than $460 million to help fight breast cancer. In 2011 alone, 1 million walkers across the country collected more than $60 million to help fight this disease.
Making Strides will hold its annual Greater Sacramento walk on Sunday, Oct. 21. Registration begins at 7am at the West Steps of the State Capitol, with a rolling start time of 8 to 9am. Event details can be found here.
Those wanting to participate in the walk can still sign up online. There are no registration fees to participate, and no minimum donation amount required, although Making Strides does suggest a $100 goal for donations and sponsorships. Participants are asked to bring all donations with them to the walk.
According to the American Cancer Society, money raised at the nationwide Making Strides events goes specifically to:
- Helping people take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early when it is most treatable
- Investing in research to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease
- Providing free information and services to help people facing breast cancer today – when and where they need it – including transportation, lodging, wigs, support programs, financial assistance, and more
- Ensuring access to mammograms for women who need them, and encouraging lawmakers to pass laws to defeat breast cancer
Since Making Strides began 20 years ago, breast cancer death rates have declined 32 percent.
“The progress we’re making because of Making Strides supporters is nothing short of remarkable,” the Making Strides website states. “But it is no time to rest. When more walkers raise money to fight breast cancer, there will be more survivors celebrating more birthdays.”
For Jardon – who celebrated her fifth year free of cancer this month – battling and surviving the disease has changed her perspective.
“Until you go through losing your hair, I mean all of it – eyebrows, eyelashes – everything, you don’t know how it will effect you. Facing the very real possibility that you could die made me more appreciative of everything,” she said.
“The beauty of the natural world, the people I love, the fact that God has given me one more day to enjoy. It helped me gain a perspective on what is really important that I might not have gotten had I not had breast cancer.”