BREAKAWAY FROM CANCER® AT THE AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
Join Breakaway from Cancer® during the largest cycling event in America, the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race that challenges 128 elite professional cyclists from all around the world to compete throughout more than 720 miles 12 host cities from northern to Southern California May 11-18.
Breakaway from Cancer® will honor and celebrate cancer survivors throughout the race.
Join the World’s Largest Cancer Support Team!
This year, Breakaway from Cancer invites race spectators to join us as we build the World’s Largest Cancer Support Team. Inside the Breakaway from Cancer tent at the lifestyle festival visit our photo booth to snap a picture in support of cancer survivors everywhere and share your photo using #breakaway. After the race, find your photo at facebook.com/BreakawayfromCancer.
Visit the Breakaway from Cancer tent
At every finish of the Amgen Tour of California, Breakaway from Cancer and our partner organizations will be on the ground sharing information about important resources. Stop by our tent to learn more. Plus we have Breakaway from Cancer bracelets and totes to giveaway.
Celebrating cancer survivors everywhere, the Breakaway Miles take place at four finish lines during the Amgen Tour of California before the professional riders roll across the finish line. It's a special one-half to one-mile walk to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide and takes place in Sacramento, Cambria, Santa Barbara and Thousand Oaks.
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Breakaway from Cancer Champions
During the Amgen Tour of California in our Breakaway Mile cities we will honor a local cancer survivor as Breakaway from Cancer Champion for making a difference within their community and inspiring others. Each Champion will also present the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey, awarded to a cyclist who best exemplifies the character of those engaged in the fight against cancer - courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance.
Meet the 2014 Breakaway from Cancer
At every stage of the Amgen Tour of California Breakaway from Cancer spotlights a local cancer survivor. Local cancer survivors will fire the official start gun each day.
Here’s a look at our 2014 race starters.
STAGE 1: SACRAMENTO – Dina Howard, Carmichael
Dina Howard is a breast cancer survivor. Dina had a large and loving network of family and friends that cared for her and her young children while she was undergoing treatment. That support system was invaluable in getting her through the fear, uncertainty, decision-making and emotions of cancer. She often talks to women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, telling them helpful things that were shared with her when she was first diagnosed. First of all, she tells them that the time right after diagnosis is the worst and scariest, when you are full of fear, treatment and outcomes are mysterious unknowns, and life feels like it will never be okay again. But she reassures them that once they gain a better understanding of their cancer and put a treatment plan in place, the fear lessens. And while the treatment is not fun and it is daunting, it’s doable if they just take it day by day. Most importantly, she tells these women that there is a wonderful, sweet life on the other side of cancer that is worth the fight.
STAGE 2: FOLSOM – Lorraine Poggione, Folsom
Lorraine Poggione’s late mother used to say, “Life isn’t tidy,” and Lorraine learned that lesson the hard way. Just two weeks shy of her 50th birthday, in November 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lorraine relied on memories of her mother’s courage and strength to keep life in perspective as she persevered through months of treatment and surgeries. With friends, family and co-workers sitting by her side through endless hours of treatments, a compassionate boss who always made sure her health came before work, and continued unconditional love from her children and family, she stayed strong and kept smiling. Along with that support network came the encouraging words from hundreds of cards and letters sent by anonymous supporters. These simple acts of kindness inspired Lorraine to become involved with the “Girls Love Mail” program. Now Lorraine writes heartfelt notes and encouraging letters to women like her going through cancer treatments. Somehow, despite everything Lorraine and her family have gone through, she still considers herself blessed and lucky. She has a loving and compassionate boyfriend who has been her inspiration to ride bikes (even do Century rides) and a network of friends that are unstoppable with support. She’s not letting cancer define who she is, but she is using her experience with cancer to become the person she wants to be – having fun, laughing, smiling and giving of herself to others.
STAGE 3: SAN JOSE – Josh Hoffman, San Jose
Cycling was the one activity that kept Josh Hoffman grounded during his journey through cancer treatment and recovery. Diagnosed in May 2012 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and papillary thyroid cancer, Josh continued riding his bike. Those were the times that he didn’t think about his cancer, but would just focus on the road ahead. Without cycling and the crucial support of his wife, Teri, and other family and friends, Josh says it would have been very easy to go to a very dark place emotionally during his treatment. But now, having completed his treatments, Josh is at a stage in his recovery where he is ready to help other cancer patients who are just starting out on their journey. He wants to help them see that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean that life is over, and that attitude is everything when it comes to beating cancer.
STAGE 4: MONTEREY – Ben Fowler, Monterey
For Ben Fowler, one of the keys to coping with his Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis was talking. Sharing his experiences with people who were newly diagnosed or relapsed allowed – and still allows – him to deal with his illness in a healthy way, helping others. Online support groups like the Hodgkin’s Disease Mail Group gave Ben a place to connect with people who knew exactly what he was going through, and now he’s able to provide that same support to others. Yet it was his small hometown of Biggs, Calif. that still leaves him in amazement. The entire community held fundraising dinners and auctions that raised more than $8,000 to help pay for Ben’s weekly travel costs to Stanford Hospital and other medical bills. This outpouring of support and generosity, along with the encouragement of his “Chemo Angels,” and the friendship of his coworkers at the Monterey Police Department, constantly reminded Ben that he was never alone in his battle.
STAGE 5: PISMO BEACH – Sharon Rude, Arroyo Grande
Sharon Rude’s journey with ovarian cancer began when her sister Judy was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer with no history of ovarian cancer in their family before her diagnosis. Judy advised Sharon to get three specific tests and for eight years she was tested and found cancer free until one day in April of 2004 when Sharon’s doctor diagnosed her with Stage 1 ovarian cancer. Sharon lost her sister to the disease but because of her sister’s warnings, she’s alive today to tell her story and fight for early detection. Sharon is dedicated to raising funds for the research needed to help with early detection of ovarian cancer through the organization she founded: the Sharon Leigh Cancer Foundation.
STAGE 6: SANTA CLARITA – Jennifer Schelling, Saugus
Jennifer Schelling found inspiration in meeting survivors who were in a similar situation to hers. It made her feel like if they could do it, then so could she. And now, as an eight-year breast cancer survivor, Jennifer is an inspiration to others. She, along with her husband and 12-year-old daughter, walk in the Revlon 5K breast cancer walk each year, and are involved with Relay for Life and the Young Survivors Coalition’s Tour De Pink 200-mile bike ride fundraiser. Participating in community events like these, and seeing hundreds of people rally around a cause like breast cancer, makes Jennifer feel lucky for the treatments and support she received. She believes that giving back after treatment is very important, and that survivors helping those who are newly diagnosed or in treatment is critical for giving hope.
STAGE 7: SANTA CLARITA – Lisa DeLong, Santa Clarita
Lisa DeLong is an advocate for a side of cancer that not everyone talks about or wants to think about. It is a topic close to her heart because she and her family experienced it and will live with it for the rest of their lives. It is grief, the loss of a loved one from cancer. In Lisa’s family, they lost a child to leukemia, and have another son who is in remission from the same disease. During the time following the death of her son Justin, writing was therapeutic for her. So much so that she shared her own experiences by publishing her memoir, BLOOD Brothers. She also found a passion for helping children who had experienced the death of a loved one, so they are not going through it alone without talking about it. Lisa’s three surviving children have taught her what grief is like for a child and how it can alter their lives. For these reasons, she co-founded a grief center called Justin Time Children’s House. It is an art-based center where families can express their grief and find peer groups, homework help and a support community. Lisa is working hard to put a strong support network in place to catch those who remain after the illness.
STAGE 8: THOUSAND OAKS – Nancy Gifford, Oak Park
When Nancy Gifford cycled in a Breakaway from Cancer® event nine years ago in honor of her dad’s colon cancer diagnosis, she never imagined that one day she would be doing it again for herself. Yet five years later, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and was turning to many of the same resources that helped her father. Nancy strongly believes in the importance of educating yourself about the disease so you can make informed decisions. As an ICU nurse, she was comfortable talking to doctors and navigating the medical system, but she started to worry about other women who might not have adequate support or might be feeling overwhelmed and alone in their fight. That was one of the reasons she started the Bosom Buddy Network. This peer-to-peer support group connects survivors with survivors so they can share information and special perspectives with someone who has been through it. Nancy is one of many survivors who has turned her experience with cancer into an opportunity to positively help others in need.
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