In December, 2012 the last thing on Donna Spoelstra’s mind was cancer. Even though her mom was a 13 year cancer survivor herself, Donna was busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and didn’t want to worry her family when she discovered a lump in her breast on Christmas Eve. As soon as she could, she scheduled a mammogram. By January she was diagnosed, and being prepped for a lumpectomy and 33 rounds of radiation.
Now, as she looks back on her cancer journey certain things stand out. “It turns out, I am a 4th generation cancer survivor. When you hear ‘cancer’ you think it’s a death sentence,” said Donna. “But it’s not! There is so much life after cancer, and if we can help each other, that’s the main thing.”
Helping each other is the reason Donna is getting involved in the 7th Annual Pink Ribbon Run. When she was going through her surgery and treatments, it was so helpful to meet other people on a similar journey, hear their stories, and offer support to each other. “I tend to be more private, more shy,” said Donna. “It’s out of character for me, but it’s also very healing to share my story.”
Donna is also joining the Pink Ribbon Run effort to give back to the Beyond Pink TEAM, the local breast coalition who receives the money raised by the Pink Ribbon Run. The Beyond Pink TEAM was there for her financially when she started receiving bills for the out of pocket expenses not covered by her insurance. Along with financial assistance, the Beyond Pink TEAM stepped up to help with support and information. “It is just great that everything they do, and all the money they raise, stays local. People need that help,” said Donna.
Last year over 600 runners and walkers participated, and the Pink Ribbon Run committee donated $23,479 to the Beyond Pink TEAM. In 2012, the Beyond Pink TEAM gave out 51 grants totaling over $30,000. Money from the Pink Ribbon Run is put into a fund at the Northeast Iowa Community Foundation. The Beyond Pink Fund, as it is named, awarded 268 grants since it began in 2008. They have provided over $130,000 in assistance. Grants of up to $1000 are given to women or men facing a breast cancer diagnosis who are in need of assistance. The assistance can be used for groceries, gas money, utility expenses, medical costs, etc.
While this will be Donna’s first Pink Ribbon Run, some breast cancer survivors have been participating all seven years.
“I have not missed a run since the beginning,” says 11 year breast cancer survivor, and retired nurse Kathy Boeckmann. “Since that very first Run, it has grown and grown. I do this walk every year now to remind me of where I have been and where I am today; a survivor and enjoying life. I was fortunate in my journey to not need the financial help, but I cared for many patients who did need the help. There was then, and still is now, so few places to go for help. The Beyond Pink TEAM is a locally run, volunteer organization who has made a difference
in our area.”
Along with being a great route to run or walk, there will be special recognition for breast cancer survivors before the race begins, and also during the program afterward. Registration for the Pink Ribbon Run is $30 until September 20; $35 after September 20 There is no Tshirt guarantee for registrations after September 25. The race will begin at 8 am, and afterward there will be Panera Pink Ribbon Bagels, awards and door prizes!! The Pink Ribbon Run is sponsored by the Cedar Falls Community Main Street. Registration information is available by going to www.beyondpinkteam.org. If you would like a registration form mailed to you; or would like to donate or be a sponsor of this great event call the Community Main Street office at 319-277-0213.