WATCH Charlotte Duggan of the American Cancer Society talk about Saturday's walk in the video player above.
CINCINNATI - They are words near and dear to Kim Toran’s heart: “Support the fighters, admire the survivors, honor the taken and never give up.”
Toran speaks from experience as she is a breast cancer survivor. Her initial diagnosis came as a shock and it was just the beginning of a physical and emotional rollercoaster that lasted almost a year.
“I was only 38 years old, and I had no breast cancer in my immediate family,” the Cincinnati woman said.
Toran had been experiencing a throbbing pain in her breast and, initially, wasn’t overly concerned. Then, she felt a knot and called her doctor, who sent her for a mammogram. Almost immediately, she was referred to a surgeon, but it was Dec. 23 and the holidays delayed her surgical consultation until after the first of the year in 2012.
The pace changed quickly as the surgeon conducted a biopsy the day of the initial appointment and Toran received a phone call the following day confirming cancer. The mother of four had a lumpectomy just days later.
“It was definitely overwhelming,” she said. “I went from diagnosis to lumpectomy in less than a week.”
The battle, however, had just begun. There were 18 rounds of chemotherapy to endure – four long months – to treat the Stage 2 cancer. With the chemo behind her, Toran was ready to start radiation when she received a devastating call from the doctor.
“My scan showed a spot on my pancreas,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘OK, God, I’m a woman of faith and if you brought me through 18 rounds of chemotherapy, you can get me through this.’ "
The benign mass was removed and a much-relieved Toran began her 30 radiation treatments. The almost year-long experience was exhausting, but just a few weeks after completing her final radiation treatment, Toran was lacing up her walking shoes for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Cincinnati. She hasn’t missed one since.
“I’m definitely stronger than I was before all of this,” Toran said. “And this is such an important event.”
Toran, now 45, will be one of the estimated 18,000 participants in Saturday morning's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk starting at Yeatman's Cove. You can register and donate online, or register at Yeatman's Cove starting at 8 a.m. The walk begins at 9 a.m.
Last year, 14,000 walkers raised $475,000 at the Cincinnati event. Nationwide, more than 1.2 million participants raised more than $60 million in Making Strides events last year.
An estimated 266,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 in the United States alone. And the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 40,000 women will succumb to the disease this year.
Events like Making Strides help fund research and education programs but also provide much-needed assistance for cancer patients like lodging, rides to treatments and one-on-one support services.
“A cancer diagnosis takes its toll on the whole family,” Toran said. “I’m so very grateful to my family. I was never by myself when I went to treatments. It helps so much to have a support system. That’s what gets you through.”
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