ROCKFORD — It was in 2014 that Kim Moore was told she had a “death sentence.”
She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
“They told me there was nothing they could do,” said Moore, 49, of Rockford, who attended the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraising walk on Saturday at Rock Valley College, 3301 N. Mulford Road.
Moore was one of nearly 2,600 people who attended the walk on Saturday. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this annual event raises money for breast cancer research, education and prevention efforts in addition to American Cancer Society programs.
But Moore, dressed in black and pink and supporting the Cannabis Kills Cancer movement, appeared the picture of health. She credits her improving health and white blood cell counts to having the mindset that cancer will not beat her, and to using cannabis-derived (CBD) oil and paste to treat her breast cancer. She underwent three different kinds of chemotherapy, but said nothing worked. She’s now receiving a fourth type, called Ibrance, which is used to treat metastatic breast cancer, and utilizing CBD therapies.
Moore said she discovered a lump in her breast while performing a self-exam in the shower, and her doctor at the time told her that women just form lumps in their breasts.
“They said it was nothing to worry about,” Moore said, but she wasn’t convinced.
A mammogram and ultrasound were performed, “and I was still misdiagnosed,” she said. The tumor remains in her breast, with doctors saying it can’t now be removed.
The cancer “started in my left breast and spread to my bones,” Moore said. “I can’t cry about it. I’m trying to enjoy life.”
About 72 hours after undergoing a double mastectomy and the removal of three tumors in her right breast and armpit, Nancy Vettore took to the stage to urge those with breast cancer to keep fighting.
“No matter your journey, good or bad, you have to keep fighting,” said Vettore, 51, of Belvidere. “Because there’s going to be people behind us that are going to need the support, just like we needed it before and we need it now.”
Vettore said she is fighting for her family, and for cancer patients who came before this generation and those who are yet to be diagnosed.
Ayesha Zahurullah, 32, a dentist from Rockford, said she was walking Saturday to show breast cancer patients “that they’re not alone.”
Abby Martin, community manager for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides walk, said attendance was up a bit versus last year’s walk.
“The more people, the more awareness,” Martin said.
By Saturday afternoon, they had raised almost $105,000 toward this year’s goal of $180,000, Martin said.
Participation this year was estimated to well exceed last year’s numbers when approximately 2,000 people participated which was down from 2016 when about 2,500 people attended. Attendance was down in 2017 and 2016 due in part to the chilly, rainy weather on the days of those walks.
The fundraising goal for 2017 was $240,000. Martin said by year’s end, $175,000 was raised for 2017. The goal for 2016 was $270,000, and Martin said $230,000 was raised by year’s end. That’s down from $265,000 raised in 2015.
Zahurullah said she was walking in honor of her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor now undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Her mother, who lives in Michigan, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and with ovarian cancer in 2014.
“She is very strong. She has a lot of faith. I’m so proud of her,” said Zahurullah, who walked in Making Strides for the first time. “I don’t know if there’s ever enough (ways) for me to show her I love her and admire her.”
Joyce Johnson’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer a decade ago, and the South Beloit dental hygienist said she was walking to support her sister-in-law, among others.
Johnson, 54, walked as a chill wind blew “to show support for people who are in the midst of their struggle and just to be part of the awareness.”
Kristen Zambo: 815-987-1339; firstname.lastname@example.org; @KristenZambo