The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Fighting against cancer

Carol Roehrig did everything right. An active runner and healthy eater, her friends often described her as the picture of health.

But in May 2005, at the age of 51, Roehrig was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

She was one of approximately 216,000 women diagnosed in the United States that year.

“You just have to get a mental attitude to fight against it,” said Roehrig, race chair for the 2006 Dallas Race for the Cure.

October, traditionally represented by the golden hues of fallen leaves and the blacks and oranges of Halloween decorations, is adding another color: pink. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and time for Race for the Cure, a fundraiser that benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Komen Foundation is an organization that funds breast cancer research and treatment programs.

It was founded in Dallas in 1982 by Nancy Brinker in memory of her sister, Susan G. Komen. Komen died of breast cancer at the age of 36.

The Komen Foundation’s mission is “to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening and treatment.”

“The greatest misconception about any cancer is that it’s a death sentence, and it’s certainly not,” said Elaine Lagow, RN, program coordinator at Baylor Sammons Breast Center.

Race for the Cure is an annual race that raises money for both national and local programs.

The first Race for the Cure event was held in Dallas in 1983 with 800 participants. More than one million are expected to participate this year.

Race for the Cure now holds 112 races in the United States and three internationally, and is the largest series of 5K runs in the nation.

Participants may choose to run or walk in either a 5K or 1K race. Breast cancer survivors wear pink, the official color of the race.

The Dallas Race for the Cure is Saturday, Oct. 21 at NorthPark Center.

Participants can register at NorthPark or Luke’s Locker until race day. Donations will be accepted through November.

For more information, visit of North Texas senior Alicia Layton, 23, is running in the 5K in honor of her grandmother, who died from breast cancer.

“It just seems invigorating to me that thousands of people would get together and rally behind a cause,” she said.

Participants in Race for the Cure enter as individuals or teams and raise money for the Komen Foundation through donations.

According to Roehrig, the concept of teams parallels a person’s struggle with the cancer.

She said people who suffered from the disease learned to get through it with a support system of family and friends around them. The teams for Race for the Cure strive to provide similar support.

The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, and while women can potentially reduce their risks by maintaining healthy lifestyles, the Komen Foundation reports every woman is a candidate for the disease – one in seven will be diagnosed in her lifetime.

Men can contract it also, but statistics show fewer than one in 100 cases are male.

Major breakthroughs have been made. According to the National Cancer Institute, a recent study revealed the drug Raloxifene can now be used to lower breast cancer risk.

The drug Tamoxifen was already being used for this purpose. Lagow said the study is vital because it gives high-risk women an option of two drugs, lowering their risks by 50 percent.

According to Roehrig, it is crucial to perform breast self-examinations because they give women the greatest awareness of their own bodies and are often life-saving detectors of cancer.

“I got mammograms religiously every year,” she said.

But self-exams can catch what mammograms sometimes miss.

A mammogram in October 2004 did not reveal any cancer.

Six months later, Roehrig discovered a cancerous lump in her breast during a self-exam.

The Komen Foundation encourages all women to get yearly mammograms, clinical breast exams and do regular self-examinations. At the time of Roehrig’s diagnosis, she was completing her Master’s of Liberal Arts degree in the education department at SMU.

She insisted on finishing her studies, despite the physical effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

She said she was fortunate her body allowed her to complete her studies.

Her friends and classmates created a team in her name. So far this year, her team has raised $1, 175.

Seventy-five percent of race donations go to Dallas County organizations that fund breast cancer programs and treatments.

According to the Dallas affiliate, the Komen Foundation will fund 5,730 mammograms this year to the medically underserved. The remaining 25 percent goes toward national breast cancer research.

In 2005, the Dallas affiliate raised $1.6 million.

Roehrig hopes the race will raise even more this year.

“It is a healthy response to something so destructive . . . and it gives a real sense that we are mobilizing ourselves in this war against breast cancer,” Layton said.

On campus, the Women’s Center is promoting Race for a Cure by providing breast health information and support.

“The advice I would give [students] would be to get informed . . . and seek medical attention,” said Women’s Center Director Karen Click.

She encourages students to come by the Women’s Center to pick up information, check out books on the subject or even suggest new programs.

The Women’s Center offers brochures on breast health and step-by-step instruction cards on breast self-examinations.

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