The Eleventh Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk takes off Saturday October 16th at Penn State Altoona. Organizers hope 100 teams take part this year. One of the new teams will be headed up by a young breast cancer patient from Cresson who started her battle against the disease, a few short months ago.
In April, 27-year-old Dawn Summerville found a lump in her breast, while showering. She discussed it with her husband Mike and they decided she needed to get it checked out by her doctor.
After two ultrasounds, a mammogram and a biopsy, doctors diagnosed breast cancer. Surgery revealed it was stage two and Dawn underwent a mastectomy. She had no family history of breast cancer and the diagnosis came as a shock. Testing showed Dawn didn't have the known breast cancer genes.
Her husband Mike remembers, "first of all you're surprised and then you question, why us why did this happen, why her. I don't understand, she's young and then, you kind of change gears and get into a mode where we need to do something about this."
For Dawn that meant six months of chemotherapy, which is scheduled to end later this year. After three weeks off treatment, she'll undergo six weeks of radiation. For the most part, she feels great, with her only side effects being fatigue and the loss of her thick, long hair.
Her four-year-old son Eli's seen her scars and knows that his mommy goes to the doctor once a week, but two-year-old Dane isn't aware anything's going on. The family tries to live as normal a life as possible.
Mike said, "all we can do is keep on hoping that maybe someday they'll be a cure for this, but right now we've got to stick with what we know and what's been working."
And Dawn said the experience has changed the way she looks at life. "The things you take for granted on a daily basis, I don't take for granted anymore. You shouldn't take your life for granted. You shouldn't take other people's lives for granted either , you should enjoy them while you can."
Dawn said her family, her husband's family and their friends have given her great support during her illness. Some of them will be walking on her team at the Making Strides event.
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