Breast Cancer Awareness walks go virtual, Midlands survivor says disease not always a death sentence

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 7:14 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Normally, this time of year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month would bring hundreds of people together in the streets for an annual walk of some sort. This year, many of those events have gone virtual.

That includes the 2020 Susan G. Komen event, the SC Mountains to Midlands More than Pink Walk which is happening Saturday, Oct. 24.

Participants can still get out and walk, it just won’t be in the way that we’ve been used to doing it for so many years in one central location. Instead, supporters are being asked to set out on the sidewalks of their own neighborhoods and complete 6,000 steps for a Virtual Finisher Medal.

There will also be two virtual opening ceremonies, one at 9 a.m. and then another at 2 p.m.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).

Lara Gopp of Richland County  says even after being cautious about her lifestyle, she too became part of that statistic.

“I was healthy, I thought. I was exercising. I was eating right. While I wasn’t overweight or I didn’t look unhealthy, I was eating a lot of good things but I wasn’t eating enough of the good things, and so, you can look healthy on the outside and still get cancer,” said Gopp.

She added that, “Within two weeks after my diagnosis, the doctors wanted to – since this cancer was so aggressive – wanted to get me into rounds of chemo and then after that I had surgery. I had a lumpectomy and then went into several months of radiation.”

The mother and wife says that treatment lasted nearly one year. She encourages those who may be looking to support a family going through this diagnosis to consider the loved ones of the patient. Gopp says the patient is always well cared for by the doctor and family members, but that the patient’s loved ones are often forgotten.

Gopp says her cancer was not hormone driven or genetic, and that stress played a big factor. It’s why she strives to be active, eat even healthier than before and remain attentive to her body. Her cancer diagnosis came after she discovered a lump in her chest just eight months after a mammogram with normal results.

“Make sure you do those self-exams because sometimes the mammograms don’t pick it up. Things can happen that are not seen, sometimes. So, it’s important to know your body. It’s important to know when there are changes,” said Gopp, who also wants people to recognize that, “A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, always, that you can go on living and live an incredible life and even do incredible things as a result of that diagnosis.”

For more information on Saturday’s SC Mountains to Midlands More than Pink Walk, click here.

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