Cheryl was at work when she got the call. It was her 40th birthday and she had plans with her mother that evening.
“You have breast cancer. You need to go see a general surgeon,” the doctor said.
They found it after her first mammogram, but it never even occurred to her that she was at risk because it didn’t run in her family. She couldn’t tell her mother that night.
“You hear those words, ‘cancer,’ and you just freak out,” she said. “I think the hardest thing is recognizing that you’re going through it, but also how hard it is on everyone who is close to you.”
Cheryl approached the situation with a proactive attitude. She wanted to understand what was going on, so she interviewed five different surgeons, five different oncologists and five different plastic surgeons. A friend who knew about some of the area’s best doctors helped guide her through the process.
“I believe in second opinions. It’s like taking your car to a different mechanic.”
There were a lot of support groups and everyone had a sad story, but Cheryl wanted to handle the situation with more positivity.
She participated in her first Making Strides breast cancer walk in 2003, a year after she was diagnosed. The following year, she served as chairman of logistics and then went on to fill the position of event chairman. The great support she received from her family and the friends she made through her involvement with the walk made all the difference. She didn’t do the walk last year, but the support was still there this year when she reached out for donations.
Today, Cheryl has been cancer-free for 12 years and has watched the walk grow from 1,200 to 12,000 people a year. She participated in this year’s Making Strides of Volusia/Flagler walk on October 25th alongside her fellow Emergency Communications Network (ECN) team members, Mike and Leah. ECN is North America’s largest provider of emergency notification systems.
“There is nothing more exciting than watching that crowd of people going across the International Speedway Boulevard Bridge with the sun coming up in Daytona. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”