To kick off this October as breast cancer awareness month, more than 500 people laced up their sneakers for the 18th Annual Remembrance Run in Traverse City this past Saturday. Awareness wasn't only the idea but also support.
"The event was developed to help support women going through breast cancer and originally it had the intent of helping them with non-medical needs," says director of the Remembrance Run, Karen Wells.
Wells says 100% of the proceeds from the run goes towards the Munson Women's Cancer Fund. The fund provides financial assistance for what health insurance does not cover when a patient is undergoing treatment.
"When you're diagnosed with breast cancer it's not just the physical trauma but also the financial piece and some of that women who are receiving treatment won't be able to maintain their jobs because they can't work during treatment so that's a huge stress on them," says Wells.
Events like the Remembrance Run help provide a sense of relief.
"I think anytime you can reduce the stress in someone else whose undergoing cancer treatment that is always going to have a positive effect on their overall well-being," says registered nurse and oncology patient educator with Munson Medical Center, Laurie Patrick.
Patients are referred to Patrick if they're in need of financial assistance during cancer treatments. She says community members coming together all to "think pink" is key to keeping awareness alive.
"It is incredible the amount of support this community has for people with cancer. It's something I'm proud of...the direct effect of the women's cancer fund can help them," says Patrick.
For people like Karen Wells, she understands first-hand the need to remind the public.
"Both grandmothers had breast cancer, my sister had it. At any moment I could be diagnosed so I have a passion to help in this way...I do this because I have neighbor right now whose breast cancer moved to her brain and it's going rampant through her body. Each time I get overwhelmed with putting on this event I just think of her and it doesn't take much to re-energize me when I think of what she's going through," says Wells.