Oklahomans run in race for breast cancer cure

Sunday, October 16th 2005, 5:25 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An estimated 13,000 people ran, walked or rode in Oklahoma City's 12th annual Race for the Cure.

This was the first year the race offered a ``survivor's trolley'' for breast cancer survivors who were unable to make the full walk. The survivors rode behind on Saturday and enjoyed the race's atmosphere.

Each adult participant paid a $20 fee and kids entered the race for $15. That money goes to the races organizer, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which doles out funds for local testing and treatment as well as national breast cancer research.

Seventy-five percent of the money raised in the Oklahoma City race will stay in central Oklahoma, said the executive director of the foundation's local affiliate, Lorna Palmer.

Breast cancer survivor Melvenia Daniels, 61, said cancer has given her strength.

It's strength she needs more than ever, as her youngest daughter, Carla, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late August. For the past four years, Carla, another daughter and granddaughters have driven up from Dallas to join Daniels in her Oklahoma City walk.

This year she's joined only by her husband, Eugene, who waited for the trolley at the race's finish line in Bricktown.

``I kind of feel like I'm here for myself and her today,'' Daniels said.

Daniels geared up for the event with plenty of pink: her nail polish, lipstick and a cap - which had five ribbons sewn to it, one for each year she's survived the disease - all came in pink, the color of breast cancer awareness.

The survivor's trolley traveled at a walking pace though downtown Oklahoma City.

It rolled past cheering fans, several bands playing music and chugged alongside thousands of walkers.

In front of First Baptist Church, people held up paper cups of water and sports drink in a support of the trolley's survivors. A cheer squad from Putnam City North High School stood near the finish line. Their yells turned to shrieks when the trolley passed.

``You know, those cheers mean a lot,'' Daniels said, looking out the trolley window. ``It's great to be alive. I thank God for every breath, every breath.''

Daniels said her favorite part of the race came after the finish, when masses of survivors gathered on the field at the SBC Bricktown Ballpark. Looking around, it's good to know you're not alone, she said.

Daniels hopes her struggle of being twice diagnosed with cancer will give her daughter hope. She used to break out in cold sweats each time she got tested for new signs of cancer. But since her second diagnosis, the tests don't worry her. She said she doesn't think about cancer often, and spends much of her time traveling to visit relatives.

Eugene, Daniel's husband, said their extended family has been forever changed.

``This has just vibrated through my whole family,'' he said. ``Its causing all the females to take a second hard look at prevention.''