By: Clarissa Corral
Katy Azevedo was given special honors for her participation in the 4th Annual Combat Cancer Walk hosted at Norco College, as she actively battles cancer herself.
Norco College campus was painted pink for the day with hues, from pale to hot pink as about a thousand participants and supporters wore all the pink clothing and accessories in support local cancer survivors.
The Support Sisterz are a nonprofit organization embodied of breast cancer survivors who serve as a support group for each other and for the local community of people that are affected by breast cancer.
San Bernardino and Riverside counties have had some of the highest breast cancer rates among California counties, according to the California Department of Public Health’s cancer registry.
“Reasons could include that women, especially those who are poor and of color, get late or no preventive screenings,” reports the Press Enterprise. “Or they don’t have access to good nutrition, health care or information. By the time they are diagnosed, they could be in the late disease stages, which could affect survival and recovery.”
In 2016 the Combat Cancer Walk was born to help raise money so that the Support Sisterz could raise both awareness and money for those in the community who are battling breast cancer and or gynecological cancers and are in need of financial assistance.
The Support Sisterz are a resource special to local survivors, as they cater specifically to those living in Corona, Norco, and Eastvale. Over the years the Support Sisterz have helped those battling with breast cancer by paying for: treatments and services not covered by insurance, copays and prescription fees, rent and utilities, as well as prosthetic bras, groceries, and even wigs.
The event had many vendors set up throughout with food, activities for children as well as some that shared awareness for other important topics such as autism.
Before beginning the actual 5k walk, there was an opening ceremony where some Support Sisterz/survivors spoke to the audience, sharing their personal struggles with breast cancer and how it has affected their lives and the tremendous support events like Combat Cancer Walk bring to so many women and families.
Keynote speaker and Support Sister Katy Azevedo, first diagnosed with Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in 2004, addressed the rallying crowd. She talked about how hard her journey has been, especially having been further diagnosed with lobular cancer in one of her breasts in 2011.
Wearing camo to represent her combat with cancer, Azevedo thanked not only those in attendance for the cancer walk, but her fellow Support Sisterz for their support and prayers.
“I have already lived longer than my life expectancy. Thank you for all your prayers. It is because of all the prayers I receive that I am still here,” Azevedo said.
Azevedo was followed up by fellow Support Sister, Layla Riley, who also thanked those in attendance for their support and good morale as she spoke about the importance of a woman battling breast cancer to have this kind of support.
“You are all Sisterz. Even the men. We are all Sisterz here,” Riley said as she rallied up the crowd before leading them in a prayer. “Anyone who is battling with breast cancer or are here supporting family and friends while they battle- we are all Sisterz here!”
Not to go unnoticed was Vader’s 501st Legion. Recognizable characters from the Star Wars series were in attendance to show their support for the cause. Characters such as stormtroopers and Dark Sith could be seen walking about. Children and adolescents alike were excited to see some of their favorite characters at the Combat Cancer walk.
Vader’s 501st Legion’s appearance lightened the mood of an already cheerful and emphatic crowd as they participated in the quick jazzercise session as a warm up for everyone who would be joining in the 5k walk. Perhaps the most popular member of the 501st Legion was the hot pink Stormtrooper.
All the Sisterz in attendance who passed the finish line were given Combat Cancer Walk dog tags as memorabilia for showing their support for their fellow Sisterz and breast cancer survivors.
Photos by Clarissa Corral