Breakaway from Cancer Champion

Breakaway from Cancer® Champion

During the Amgen Tour of California (May 12-19, 2013), a local cancer survivor, patient, caregiver, or advocate will be named Breakaway from Cancer® Champion for making a difference within their community and inspiring others.

Breakaway from Cancer® Champions will be granted special access to the 2013 Amgen Tour of California and will be recognized on stage. Each Champion will lead the Breakaway Mile through their community, a special one-mile walk to honor cancer survivors worldwide. The Champions will be joined by a peloton of their support team members, including caregivers, family members and healthcare professionals who support their fight against cancer.

After a public call for nominations to four of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California communities including Escondido, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara and Livermore, our judging committee and general public have selected our winners. We are pleased to present the 2013 Champions. Please read each of their stories and join us as we honor them in their communities during the Amgen Tour of California.

Sue Martin, Escondido, CA, Stage 1: Escondido

Sue Martin was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2008 at age 51. Three weeks after a mastectomy, and two days prior to starting treatment, Sue began a new job with a new company. She went through 14 months of treatment and never missed a full day of work. Sue believes that her positive attitude was one of the keys to surviving and thriving. Encouraged by those she has inspired, Sue is writing a book about her successful journey to cancer freedom entitled I Shed Two Tears, then Kicked it with Attitude.

Nancy Eckels, Canyon Country, CA, Stage 3: Santa Clarita

Since her diagnosis seven months ago, Nancy has kept her friends and family apprised of her journey with seriousness, grace, humor and humility. At the same time, she is advocating with insistence that early detection is the key. Nancy recently completed six rounds of chemotherapy and will soon have breast reconstruction surgery followed by radiation. Nancy, an amazing artist with several pieces on display at Providence Holy Cross in Valencia, has continued painting through this journey, keeping her spirits enthused. Nancy’s good friend Janet applauds her on her choice to turn her difficult experience into one of hope, humor and advocacy toward all her women friends ~ get that mammogram!

Peggy Rantanen, Santa Barbara, CA, Stage 4: Santa Barbara

Peggy was diagnosed with aggressive stage IV ovarian cancer about two years ago. After she completed the standard treatment of care, her cancer recurred and metastasized to the lymph system. Since then, she has been on various chemotherapy and targeted treatments. Throughout this journey, Peggy has proven to be a “Champion” as a person, and a patient, and also because she represents the unsung “Champions” of women who have been diagnosed with the silent and devastating disease of ovarian cancer. Peggy has inspired family, friends and those she has met with the same diagnosis by being open with her struggles as she’s dealing with her ongoing treatment, yet finding ways to manage and cope and remain positive through the process. Despite facing ongoing treatment, Peggy has not only found ways to find strength, but she has also given of herself through these times by supporting others one-on-one and enthusiastically sharing resources that she has found helpful in managing her journey. Peggy has also demonstrated living life to the fullest; she has enjoyed classes at Adult Ed and the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, and loves to travel, recently visiting Paris, focusing on what can be done rather than what cannot.

Virginia “Dee” Williams, Livermore, CA, Stage 8: Livermore

In recent times, twelve year breast cancer survivor Dee Williams has also been battling a neurological disorder similar to MS, along with fibromyalgia and arthritis; however, she does not let it stop her from acting as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. Dee is a Call Back volunteer who talks to cancer patients to determine if their needs have been met while undergoing chemo or radiation. She also spends time talking with recently diagnosed breast cancer patients to help relieve their concerns as they’re starting their journey. This is called the Reach to Recovery program. Dee is also one of the Walnut Creek American Cancer Society Look Good, Feel Better coordinators for Livermore and Pleasanton. Look Good, Feel Better teaches women who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation how to pick out, take care of and wear wigs, as well as teaching make-up techniques since their skin tones may be changing. And, for the past four years, Dee has also been a Relay For Life Team member and walks the track in support of the American Cancer Society.