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Blues Drop Gloves to Fight Breast Cancer

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Lois Knapp (right) was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. Now a 38-year survivor, she poses for a picture with Barret Jackman before the 2009 Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure. The Blues have been involved heavily with the Komen Race for the past three years.

  Photos: Blues Race for the Cure Headquarters
  Donate: Give to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure
  Download: 2009 Blues Komen Team Photo
When doctors told Lois Knapp she had breast cancer, a lot of things raced through her mind.

What if my body doesn’t respond to treatment? Will I be healthy enough to celebrate my son’s first birthday? Will I live long enough to see him grow up?

But here she is, standing in downtown St. Louis and wearing a visor to protect herself from the rays of the summer sun. Her boy is there, now all grown up. She has two grown daughters, too, not to mention a grandson, Kollin, who plays hockey.

Lois was 29 when she was given the bad news about her breast cancer. She’s 67 now and she’s been completely cancer-free for 38 years.

Her story can be summed up in one word, the same word she uses to describe how she feels: “unbelievable.”

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. More than 190,000 cases are likely to be diagnosed in 2009 alone and about 40,000 American women will die from it this year.

Statistics like these make Lois’ story much more admirable. On Saturday, she completed a walk with other breast cancer survivors at the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure. More than 66,000 people participated in the event, which raised $3.25 million for breast cancer research this weekend in St. Louis alone.

“It’s amazing,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who was one of several Blues players to come out in support of the cause. “These races happen all over the world, but you just see the St. Louis community come downtown on a Saturday morning…it’s a huge turnout.

“It’s fun to see all these smiling faces. Everyone is so energized so early in the morning, and all of them are here for the same thing: (finding a cure).”

Yan Stastny signs an autograph for Holly Smith, a four-year breast cancer survivor, at the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure on Saturday (Photo by Mark Buckner).

For the third consecutive year, the Blues, sponsored by Fox Sports Midwest and St. Louis University Hospital, participated by inserting a team into the race. More than 1,200 people wore T-shirts bearing the Blue Note and pink ribbon logo. Team members contributed more than $45,000 to cancer research.

Barbara Zacher hopes that one day, the money raised will be instrumental in finding a cure for breast cancer. Barbara’s mother died of the disease in 1991 and both her father and sister are breast cancer survivors.

Holly Smith, 31, and Virtes Mori, 47, are two survivors who say they’re already looking forward to participating on the Blues team again next year.

“I found out in June 2004 that I was diagnosed,” Smith said. “I’ve come out every year since just to support the survivors and all who we have lost.”

“It’s not hard to find someone that has been touched in some way by breast cancer,” said Renah Jones, the Blues’ Director of Community Relations. “The Blues’ involvement has grown into something beyond what we ever expected – our fans and our team have shared personal experiences with us and they really support us.

“Together, we all have contributed in a big way to fight this disease.”

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