The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 18, 2013

2nd annual Walk for Hope set for Saturday


TARBORO — A “Walk for Hope” Saturday morning will raise money for breast cancer patients and survivors. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. on the track in front of Vidant Edgecombe Hospital.

“I feel the walk is a great thing to let the community know that there is life after breast cancer. There is hope,” said Jackie Sheppard, a six-year breast cancer survivor and chairwoman of the Lotus Survival Foundation. The foundation and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital are co-coordinating the 2nd Annual Walk for Hope.

“The Walk for Hope is the only breast cancer related walk that is held in Edgecombe County,” said Scott Phillips, oncology patient navigator for the hospital. “The hospital is happy to partner with the Lotus Survival Foundation. Several times a year they have healing retreats to help breast cancer survivors cope with survivorship. The money that we raise is to help pay for those retreats.”

Walkers are welcome to register the day of the walk, at 9 a.m. Phillips asks participants to walk at least seven laps around the track, which equals one mile, at a suggested sponsorship of $5 per lap..

“We encourage participants to have at least $25 in sponsorship funds to turn in when they walk, but we will accept donations in any amount,” Phillips said.

Tents will be set up for walkers who need to stop and rest in the shade. Informational booths will be set up at the walk and a disc jockey will play music to entertain walkers. Children’s activities are planned, as well.

The first Walk for Hope, last year, raised $4,000.

“It was the hottest day of the year and we had an outstanding turnout,” Sheppard said. “I’m hoping this year we’ll get the same participation.”

To Sheppard, the walk is a way of giving back, to the foundation of women that provided a great source of support to her during her battle with breast cancer.

“I just want to give back what was given to me. I know if I didn’t have good people in my corner, I wouldn’t have made it,” Sheppard said. “You can’t do it alone. You got to have support.”

Sheppard has been on several retreats with the foundation. After spending a week with fellow breast cancer survivors at a retreat, she said felt that she had gained several new sisters.

“That’s how close we became in that room in that one week together. We just all bonded together,” Sheppard said. “Everybody had a different story, but we could relate to one another.”

The retreats and other services offered to women locally, such as the oncology patient health navigation program, are among the reasons for the decline in breast cancer mortality rates in Edgecombe County over the past few years, said Phillips.

“The Susan G. Komen Foundation had a report in 2007 indicating that Edgecombe County was No. 16 in the United States for breast cancer mortality rate,” Phillips said. “We now have less people in Edgecombe County dying from breast cancer.”

The Walk for Hope will raise money to send more women to Lotus Survival Foundation retreats. Sheppard also believes the walk will be an encouragement to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer because they will see long-term survivors and have a chance to hear their stories.

“I can truly say that there is hope and there is life after breast cancer,” Sheppard said. “If God did it for me, I know He’ll do it for others.”