Strides Against Breast Cancer Survivors Walk inspires hope

By Lynn R. Parks

When Jenna Ko was pregnant with her youngest child, Azya, she learned that she had breast cancer.

I felt a lump and the doctor said that it was a blocked milk duct, said Ko, who lives in Seaford. My mother kept saying, Cant we make sure? So I went back to the doctor and had a biopsy done. When the results came back, I learned that I had cancer.

Ko had already gone through 32 weeks of her pregnancy. Doctors induced labor, Azya was born, and two weeks later, Ko had her breast removed. Two weeks after that, she started an eight-week course of chemotherapy.

That was four years ago. Monday evening, Ko and four of her five children, including Azya, led a crowd of about 130 people from Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals Cancer Care Center to Gateway Park in downtown Seaford in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Survivors Walk, sponsored by Nanticoke and the city of Seaford.

Were here for all of the survivors, and for everyone who didnt make it as well, Ko said. Were here to show support, and to show our love.

Pink was the color of the evening. Azya was dressed in a pink dress and was wearing pink beads. Trees in Gateway Park were decorated with miniature pink lights and the floodlights in the fountain turned the water pink.

Mary Catherine Hopkins, a long-time volunteer with the American Cancer Society, wore a pink headdress with white blinking lights and Nanticoke director of radiology Missy Babinski was sporting pink sunglasses.

Guest performer was Tracy Passwaters of Laurel, an employee at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and a breast cancer survivor. She sang Blessings, a Christian contemporary song written by Laura Story.

What if your blessings come through raindrops, she sang. What if your healing comes through tears. What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise.

Guest speaker Sally Stewart, also a breast cancer survivor, said that her cancer was indeed a gift. A minister with the United Methodist Church, she said that going through treatment for cancer enabled her to share in a deep and meaningful way with people who have been touched by cancer.

Mayor Ed Butler and state Rep. Dan Short both read proclamations declaring that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are few families that have not been touched by this terrible disease, Short said. But there is hope. We are here to share great stories of success.

Steve Rose, CEO of Nanticoke Health Services, said that he was pleased to see so many people participate in the walk. This is a great example of how a community can come together to support those who need our support, he said.

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