Cedar Rapids breast cancer race raises funds and awareness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids breast cancer race raises funds and awareness

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

For breast cancer survivors, having a support network can be a big help with recovery..

Three Eastern Iowa women met each other on a retreat for breast cancer patients.

Now, they've started their own survivor support group.

"Our bond is very close," said Jan Swentkofske of Cedar Rapids.  "We share a lot and we just enjoy each others' company."

"It's wonderful support," said Kathy Wolfe of Manchester.  "We each can understand the others' feelings."

Receiving the breast cancer diagnosis was a dark day for each woman.

"It was the thing that I feared the most because my mother died of breast cancer," said Swentkofske.  "But I'm here today - I'm a survivor. Didn't ask to be in the sisterhood but we are!"

Sunday was a celebration they survived.

The three were among those who ran and walked to raise money for Mercy Medical Center's Especially for You fund, which pays for breast care services for uninsured and underinsured men and women.

"Everyone knows someone who has been touched by breast cancer," said Karen Vander Sanden, Especially for You Committee.  "I think that shows when you see the number of people who come out."

The race also promotes breast cancer awareness and reminds women to schedule routine mammograms.  As survivors know, early detection can make all the difference.

"I'm just grateful that I was able to have the mammogram and get through everything and now here we are today," said Wolfe.

"I wouldn't have been able to probably survive without a mammogram," said Karen Froelich of Marion.

The Especially for You Race began in 1991 with 1, 078 people.  This year more than 15,250 joined the cause.

The race raised $376,000 for the Especially for You fund.

Last year 629 people benefited from that fund.

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