Race for the Cure draws more than 10,000 and sets record

Pam Malone counts herself as one of the lucky ones.

She's a nurse and usually got a mammogram once a year. But she skipped a year, and when she returned for a check in 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"If I had waited, it would have been more invasive," she said.

Two surgeries and 36 radiation treatments later, the 56-year-old is cancer-free.

"I had it a lot easier than a lot of women," she said.

Malone was one of hundreds of people wearing pink shirts with "Survivor" inked on one side Saturday morning at the Komen Wichita Race for the Cure.

And she was one of more than 10,000 people who registered for the event, helping it set a record.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars that flowed in from donations, fundraising, sponsors and sales for the event will pay for research and for screening for people who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

The screening is vital, educators and cancer patients say.

Patricia Williams and Wanda Brown walked up to an educational booth early Saturday morning. Kamiel Evans, a volunteer, showed them a key chain with a circle about half the size of a dime. That's what a screening can detect when compared to prior tests, she said. Another one, about the size of a dime, is what can be detected with a mammogram.

The next size up — roughly a nickel — is what a self-examination can catch. Then, finally, a half-dollar coin-size circle represents the type of lump that many women accidentally find before being diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It shows the importance of getting in and seeing your doctor," Evans said.

Williams needed no convincing. Her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and had surgery to remove it in August.

Now she's in her third week of chemotherapy.

"She looks good," Williams said.

Williams said she's been to the annual event before.

"But this time it's personal," she said. Then she pointed to the sky, where two hot air balloons drifted above the Towne East Square parking lot in the light of the rising sun.

"We're here for the cure," she said.

So was Brandon Thrash, a 35-year-old from Andover.

He said his mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer about three weeks ago. It has not spread to other organs and she's getting ready for chemotherapy and radiation, which he said should work.

He has been to the race before. But this year he organized a team of 29 people, raising a little over $1,000.

"It's a good cause," he said. "We have to look for a cure any way possible."

It's not just for his mom, he said. He has daughters ages 2 and 5.

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