ST. LOUIS - Every year on a Saturday morning in the middle of June, Bonnie Jernigan cries.
It wasn’t all that long ago that doctors found a lump in her breast after a routine mammogram. The lump was deep, where it couldn’t be detected through physical examination.
Thankfully, an early discovery led a great success story for Bonnie, who wears a big smile on her face and is happy to be one of the lucky ones.
Her tears today (and every June) are for the women who weren’t so lucky. They’re also for the women who are battling breast cancer right now. Some, though, are tears of joy due to the outpouring of support she sees every summer at the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure in downtown St. Louis.
Evelyn Cox (center), a 28-year breast cancer survivor and Blues Race for the Cure team participant since 2007, poses for a photo before Saturday's race in downtown St. Louis. More than 800 Blues fans joined this year's team (Photo by Scott Rovak).
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“Every year we’ll get in line (for the race), look forward and everything you see is women and men supporting the survivors,” Bonnie said. “Then you look back and it’s wall-to-wall, street-to-street with people. It’s amazing.”
This year, Bonnie wears a bright pink shirt given only to the breast cancer survivors. It’s a badge of honor she’s now worn proudly for five consecutive years.
“I always say I flirted with breast cancer,” she added. “They caught it very early so I didn’t have to go through chemo(therapy). I’m such a lucky person that I didn’t have to go through what a lot of these people had to.”
As a sign of support for those affected by breast cancer, the St. Louis Blues joined the fight by captaining a team at Saturday's Race for the Cure. This year’s race marked the ninth consecutive season the Blues have been involved with the organization.
All fans who registered for the team received a commemorative Blues ribbon hat and access to the pre-race activities outside Scottrade Center, which included breakfast, an appearance by Blues legend Bob Plager, and survivor and top fundraiser recognition. In addition, team members were given an opportunity to sign a banner that will be displayed behind the Blues bench during Hockey Fights Cancer month next season.
This year, more than 800 fans joined the Blues team. Over the past nine seasons, the Blues have raised more than $500,000 for the cause.
Breast cancer affects nearly everyone in some way, and Plager is no exception. His sister-in-law is a breast cancer survivor and his brother, Barclay, died of cancer in 1988. Those are just two reasons why he hasn't missed a Race for the Cure event since the Blues first formed a team in 2007.
“It’s a good charity, something you want to be involved in,” Plager said. “It’s another way I can give back to the city for what they’ve done for me. Every bit (of money we raise) counts, and maybe some day we will have a cure.
“You look around here, people we don’t even know - it’s a bad disease. Let’s get a cure for it.”
Saturday’s event consisted of a 5K race and a 5K walk/run, which began at 8 a.m.
"It's another way I can give back to the city for what they've done
for me. Every bit (of money we raise) counts, and maybe
some day we will have a cure." - Bob Plager
According to breastcancer.org, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States. The website estimates that more than 40,000 women will die from the disease this year. Fortunately, due in part to money raised through fundraisers like Saturday’s Race for the Cure, breast cancer diagnosis rates have been decreasing since 2000, as have the number of breast cancer deaths.
“I could not have made it if I didn’t have good doctors and good support from my family and friends,” said Evelyn Cox, a 28-year breast cancer survivor who has participated in the Race for the Cure with the Blues since 2007. “I have a lot of friends that have had breast cancer and a couple who have died.
“Everybody needs to know that there’s hope. That’s what I walk for.”