PORTSMOUTH — A T-shirt bearing the logo “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fight Cancer Alone” clearly represented the feeling Sunday as more than 500 people showed up to run or walk in the 11th annual Celebrate Pink 5K.
The walk, which started at Portsmouth Middle School, is hosted by My Breast Cancer Support (http://www.mybreastcancersupport.org/) and the money raised goes to support people as they undergo treatment.
“One in eight people will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year,” said Jennie Halstead, Executive Director of My Breast Cancer Support. “New Hampshire has the highest incidence of any state, and Maine is not far behind.”
Halstead said there were 31 teams this year and many others for the walk, which goes through downtown Portsmouth, over the Memorial Bridge into Kittery and back.
“Sometimes the bridge is up and we have to wait,” said Halstead. “The participants do not seem to mind.”
A team of about 20 represented Tresses Hair Salon in Rochester. Owner of the salon, Christine Colonna is a board member of My Breast Cancer Support.
“This is our way of giving back to our community,” said Colonna. “We started doing this event about eight years ago. I joined the board last year. I think we have all been touched by cancer in some way, so it’s important to help.”
Cindy Chao, a breast cancer surgeon and Helene Langley, RN, work for Southern Maine Health Care Center for Breast Care in Biddeford, Maine and they walk for their patients. Langley said MBCS offers direct help to their patients.
“I love this organization,” said Chao. “They do so much good work in New Hampshire and in Maine.”
Jodi Cote of Newmarket is a breast cancer survivor. She was walking with her friends Donna Harrington, also of Newmarket.
“My mom died from breast cancer, so it’s in my family,” said Cote. “I am feeling pretty good right now. I am alive.”
The money raised, and Halstead said their goal this year is $60,000, is used, as their name implies, for support. It funds care packages for newly diagnosed women, “hope” chests for nurses’ stations at medical facilities, so they can distribute items like gas cards to their patients, and grants of up to $1,500 to help with financial needs as a patient is undergoing treatment.