Breast cancer walk in Detroit brings over 10,000 survivors, supporters

Detroit’s Hart Plaza turned to a sea of ​​pink on Saturday as thousands of survivors and supporters came together to raise awareness of breast cancer and celebrate those who defeated it.

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the American Cancer Society held their annual walk, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”. Presented by Chevrolet and now in its 24th year, the event brought an inflatable breast cancer awareness chair, merchandise, games, music, prizes, vehicles and training to more than 10,000 attendees.

“It’s been two years since we brought everyone together, so it’s an amazing feeling to know we can bring all of our constituents here and do so safely,” said Carrie Franchi, assistant director of development at American Cancer Die Society. “In a (COVID-free) Year we would have 20 to 25,000 people coming down. ”

Che 'Finklea, 41, of Taylor, is surrounded by family and friends taking part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Hart Plaza on October 9, 2021.

Instead of the typical stroll through the downtown streets, this year’s event was designed as an open house festival with a stroll along the Detroit RiverWalk. The celebrations began at 9 a.m.

Franchi hopes people will leave the event with more education and awareness about the disease and the work of the organization.

“We want people to know that it’s great to come down and really be aware and feel everyone, but we want people to remember what we are doing,” said Franchi. “And our mission is to cure breast cancer.”

Participants shared their stories of breast cancer survival, and many wore pink outfits, from sunglasses to tutus.

Early detection and self-regulation saved the life of a sixth year survivor Vanessa Alexa of White Lake Township. Alexa, who wore a bright pink wig and tutu, has been attending the event for six years.

Vanessa Alexa from White Lake is a 6-year-old cancer survivor and will walk with family and friends along the Detroit Riverfront on October 9, 2021 for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

“I was diagnosed just before my 31st birthday,” said Alexa. “A lot of people don’t believe that they can get breast cancer at such a young age. It was therefore very important to me that I recognized it early because it changed the direction of my treatment and also allowed me to make decisions that would help me with future family planning. Now I have my 3 year old daughter and I am very happy that the treatments have come so far that I have this opportunity after my treatment. “

Alexa encourages people to see a doctor regularly to get screened for breast cancer and to self-screen. She has also received support from organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the Young Survival Coalition.

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Those in need or willing to support the cause can visit local organizations like Bras for the Cause, The Pink Fund, and Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition.

“There is a strong community of survivors and carers and you are never alone,” said Alexa. “We are all there for you and we stand up for you and support research to hopefully end breast cancer.”

Oak Park’s Raylonda McClinton brought her Diamonds Inspiring Virtue and Success nonprofit to celebrate the organization’s third year of survival.

The “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk began on October 9, 2021 in Hart Plaza with a festival atmosphere with food trucks and a DJ.

“We’re going with all of our sisters who survived and those who went home too, but they still beat cancer,” McClinton said. “They took another walk last year, but this was the first year we all decided to take this real walk, so I’m excited. I’ve never been into anything like that. ”

Some participants who participated are still in treatment. And many held posters of photos to honor those who may have lost their lives fighting the disease.

In 2021, 284,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their life, according to an American Cancer Society press release. And the second leading cause of cancer death in women is breast cancer. Making Strides Detroit has been committed to helping and saving lives since 1998, raising more than $ 16.5 million in the process.

Jennifer Ewing of Clinton Township holds a sign in memory of her sister Cheryl Hutson, who died of breast cancer in 2017 after battling the disease on the hard court for 14 years.

“Since 1989 the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 41%,” said Franchi. “The money we raise at this event will go towards breast cancer research. We invest in innovative research to find new treatment options. We also offer patient programs and services. And we’re really focused on access to quality healthcare and health equity. “

This month there will be more hikes on site.

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