MEDFORD, Ore. – October is dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer, urging women to get their annual mammograms and perform self-checks, but for the many local women fighting breast cancer the subject is never far from the mind.
Once a week, a wave of pink moves through the Rogue Valley Mall. More than a dozen breast cancer survivors walk together as each take steps through their own journey against cancer.
“The first time I came to the walking group, I was a little embarrassed because I had no hair, I had just gone through chemo and the first thing I got was hugs and everybody said, ‘Wow, you look great bald!’” said Jill Kennedy, a breast cancer survivor. But Jill Kennedy quickly learned there is no room for embarrassment.
“Everybody’s so genuine, everybody’s honest and genuine, and you can say anything you want and they’ll tell you anything, it’s just great to get experience. There’s a lot of experience in these women,” Kennedy said.
It’s that experience and advice that an oncology nurse navigator at Providence Medford Medical Center, Kate Newgard, was hoping these women would find when she started the walking group in 2006.
“The thing that was lacking was the physical connection of healing yourself by being healthy and working out, so I added this piece because it combines both of the things I really believe in, emotional and physical support for survivors,” explained Newgard.
Newgard says the survivors are of all ages and more importantly are all at different points in their battle against cancer. She said that’s something that can help a woman with a new diagnosis: not only providing advice, but an example of life as a survivor.
“Women can show up and see a nice health vibrant group of survivors walking the mall together, just living, it is wonderful. You see the strengths of other people and it helps to pull you up,” said Newgard.
All breast cancer survivors are invited to take part in the walking group. For information, contact Providence Medford Medical Center.