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Cancer survivors use run to raise awareness

For junior Carah Aufdemberge, life was like a dream.

A bad dream.

The doctor’s diagnosis of her mother’s cancer turned her teenage years upside-down.

Her mom, Carla, “was always so tired, so I never got to really communicate,” Carah Aufdemberge said. “It felt like I didn’t have my mom for, like, a year of my life.”

Many people with situations like that of the Aufdemberge family find hope in races organized by Susan G. Komen Race for the

Cure. Thousands of people meet for the common cause of spreading the word of breast cancer. Last Sunday, thousands of people met at Mizzou Arena to run for the Cure.

The organization holds races all across the country, raising money and bringing hope. This promise between the sisters led to the birth of the organization.

Susan G. Komen got cancer at the age of 33, and her sister promised to help others with breast cancer in the future, accomplishing Komen’s foundation.

After Komen died, her sister started the Susan G. Komen organization in 1982. Since its founding, Susan G. Komen brings hope across the nation and money for breast cancer research and awareness programs.

Everyone has a purpose for running or walking a Race for the Cure. Many run in remembrance of lost loved ones, including Susan Woodbury.

She runs in the Race for the Cure everywhere from Cleveland, Ohio to Columbia, Mo. in remembrance of her daughter.

Doctors diagnosed her daughter with inflammatory breast cancer five years ago, one of the more aggressive forms of the tumor.

Her family joined together for a Race for the Cure in Kansas City to find hope for the suffering. Her daughter had gone through a lot of treatment, physically weakening her.

“We took a wheelchair along for her so she was able to walk about half, and she was very proud of it,” Woodbury said. “We have some amazing pictures of her going across the starting line.”

Thousands of people come to each race, and they are not only survivors and victims. Mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and friends, young and old, come to be part of the cause.

Carah Aufdemberge runs in remembrance of her mom’s struggle.

The Aufdemberge family has a long history of breast cancer. At one of Carla’s checkups two years ago, the results showed a cancerous cyst.

Immediately after the diagnosis, she started treatment. During chemotherapy, her strength weakened along with the cancerous cells. But strength wasn’t the only thing she lost.

“She used to always have really long hair that she loved, and she lost it during chemotherapy. That was really hard for her,” Carah Aufdemberge said. “It was hard to watch her be in all this pain. It wasn’t like physical pain, it was emotional pain. … She wasn’t really herself the whole time she was going through treatment. We couldn’t do anything about it.”

Luckily for Carla Aufdemberge, doctors diagnosed her cancer at stage two out of four, which meant a eighty to ninety percent survival chance. After less than two years of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, her cancer was gone.

Carah Aufdemberge found a message from the pain. Instead of feeling sorry for herself and asking, “Why me?” she reflected on her faith to discover a bigger picture.

Breast cancer is in many families’ histories, making them more aware of the disease.

For biology teacher April Sulze, the presence of breast cancer in her mom, aunt, and grandma led to her getting yearly mammograms.

While no one in Sulze’s family died of cancer, but she still found the treatment emotionally straining.

“It’s just hard to watch a family member go through something that could potentially take their life,” Sulze said.

The yearly tests detected her mom’s cancer at an early stage, bringing an easy treatment. Her aunt, however, had to get full mastectomy in addition to losing her hair from chemotherapy.

Members of Sulze’s aunt’s family shaved their heads after her aunt lost her hair, and no one thought it was a big deal.

“Seeing [my aunt lose her hair] was not even a big issue, but [a reminder] that so much in your life can change from [cancer].” Sulze said.

Sulze participates in many races, including almost every St. Louis Race for the Cure in the past eight years. The experience never gets old for her. She loves the wide variety of participants.

“You see elderly people or people in wheelchairs or people that are not really able to actually walk that distance out there doing this because they believe in it,” Sulze said.

Even though breast cancer brings tragedy to many people, it also brings life lessons and greatened appreciation for the little things in life. Carah Aufdemberge found a meaning from her mom’s breast cancer, expanding her outlook on life.

“I feel like it was God talking to me saying, ‘Hey, you should be lucky. You have your mom still. You still have your family,” Carah Aufdemberge said. Finding a whole new perspective on life from watching her mom’s cancer progress and be cured “was an eye-opener. … I was so glad it was over.”

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