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East County Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 8 months ago

In-person Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk returns

Afflicted Lakewood Ranch residents look forward to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Summerfield’s Betsy Young went to the doctor in July for her regularly scheduled mammogram. 

She said she was in good health and even considered rescheduling her mammogram. 

But two days after she had her appointment, she received a call she will never forget. 

Her doctor told her they found a 4-millimeter lump in her breast and he wanted her to get an ultrasound. 

After the ultrasound, she was referred to a surgeon and oncologist. On Aug. 24, Young met with a surgeon to get the results of a biopsy. 

It was official. She was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows and spreads quickly and is more likely to come back after treatment. It also doesn’t respond to hormone therapies like other breast cancers.

“When my doctor called me and the pathology reports were in, I just broke down,” Young said. “I  knew the call was coming, I knew what it was going to be, but when he said it, it floored me.”

Young began chemotherapy Sept. 8. 

Although her family and friends have provided tremendous support, Young looks forward to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk Oct. 16 at Nathan Benderson Park so she can be around others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer along with breast cancer survivors. 

East Bradenton's Corina Geiger, Summerfield's Betsy Young, Lakewood Ranch's Giselle Ucciferri and Bradenton's Megan Yost talk about their breast cancer diagnoses, treatment and more.

“As supportive as my husband, mom and family have been, nobody really understands,” Young said. “I just hope to bring some awareness to the fact that this is something that could impact anyone at any time, and we need to be diligent about our own health. The biggest thing is the research because there are too many women we’ve lost, and I don’t want my daughters to be in those statistics.” 

The Making Strides walk will be the first in-person event the American Cancer Society has had since 2019 as a result of the pandemic. 

Bethany Lynch, an American Cancer Society senior development manager and River Club resident, said about 200 teams will participate in the walk. Lynch expects 3,000 to 5,000 people will participate this year compared to 7,000 to 10,000 participants in past years. 

The walk will include at least three food trucks, four bands playing around the 3-mile course and a tribute garden in memory and in support of those who have had breast cancer or have breast cancer.

This year, the walk will have a staggered start to help with crowd control. Walkers can go on the course at any time between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

“It feels amazing to finally be able to gather everybody together again in a safe way to celebrate the work they continue to do throughout this pandemic,” Lynch said. It’s nice to have some sense of normalcy again and to gather all these people we haven’t seen in so long.”

Lakewood Ranch High School seniors Alyssa and Charlize Ucciferri support their mother, Giselle Ucciferri, as she celebrates 20 years in remission. Ucciferri was diagnosed with breast cancer and uterine cancer.

Lakewood Ranch’s Giselle Ucciferri spent time at the Lakewood Ranch High School football game Oct. 1 talking to Young, along with Bradenton’s Megan Yost and east Bradenton’s Corina Geiger, about what it’s like being 20 years in remission. 

Yost, who is 26, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July and currently is on her fourth round of chemotherapy. Geiger was diagnosed in 2019 and is healing from treatment. 

The women were at the high school for its pink-out game and were honored during halftime by the Student Government Association. Before halftime, the four women, who were wearing pink shirts and sashes that said, “survivor,” talked about how their cancer was discovered, their treatment and how they’re doing.

Ucciferri was diagnosed with breast cancer and uterine cancer after she went through in vitro fertilization 20 years ago. 

“Live your life as much as you can and whatever comes, comes,” Ucciferri said. “It’s like anything, we have no control. I freaked out at first but then I realized there’s nothing I could do. Whatever the doctors told me I did. I do my yearly checkups and just try not to think about it.”

A year after she finished treatment, Ucciferri went through in vitro fertilization once more and had her twins, Alyssa and Charlize Ucciferri, who are now seniors at Lakewood Ranch High School. 

Ucciferri and her daughters will participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk where she’ll continue to share her story and support others like Young, Yost and Geiger.

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