Susan G. Komen Northeastern New York Race for the Cure
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 13
WHERE: Empire State Plaza
SCHEDULE: 5K run, 9 a.m.; 2-mile walk, 10 a.m.; Kids for the Cure Dash, 11:30 a.m.
TO REGISTER OR FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.komenneny.org/komen-race-for-the-cure/
The first year Diane Butrym participated in the Susan G. Komen Northeastern New York Race for the Cure, she was embarrassed to wear the pink T-shirt she received, which singled her out as a cancer survivor.
The 53-year-old said she really didn’t want people to know, but, she wore the bright top anyway. Before the race was over, she had changed her way of thinking.
During the 5K, she found herself running next to some high school girls.
“They were kind of encouraging me to keep up with them and stuff, and we crossed the finish line holding hands. That was pretty cool,” the Schenectady resident reminisced. “I said, ‘Yeah, this is OK.’ ”
More than a decade later, Butrym wears her pink shirts from Komen races proudly and aims to inspire others, not only to participate in the race, but to spread the word about the importance of mammograms and of being a self-advocate for medical matters.
Now a race volunteer, she’s busy getting ready for the 20th annual event, scheduled for Sept. 13 at Empire State Plaza. The run is being held three weeks earlier than usual to avoid conflicts with Yom Kippur.
Race organizers hope to draw about 3,000 participants and bring in $300,000 for the organization. Three-quarters of the proceeds will fund grants for local organizations that carry out breast cancer-related initiatives, while 25 percent will be dedicated to national research programs.
Education is another important component, with information distributed about breast cancer risk factors and screening programs, as well as healthy lifestyle choices.
Butrym said her cancer was caught early because she has been diligent about getting screened. In March 2002, her gynecologist detected a lump in her left breast and sent her for a mammogram. It was just about time for her annual mammogram, so a screening was performed on both breasts. Cancer was detected in the right breast.
Butrym said the diagnosis came as a shock, as she had no family history of breast cancer.
“I was pretty healthy, I never smoked and I was pretty active,” she explained. “I didn’t have any symptoms. I felt fine.”
She went through surgery to have the cancer removed and then radiation treatments. Not long after she completed treatment, she decided to run in the Race for the Cure. She’d never been a runner, but set her mind to becoming one.
“I just wanted to show my kids that you can overcome things,” she explained.
That year, she finished first among survivors in the over-40 age group.
The race has become a family affair for Butrym. Her husband and son have put in time recruiting volunteers and lugging supplies, and her daughter, Ashley, designs T-shirts for Sleep In for the Cure, an offshoot of the race geared to those who won’t be in attendance on race day.
“Knowing firsthand, with Mom’s situation, you know the struggle that comes with it, and it just makes you feel good that you can help somebody else,” Ashley said.
Diane Butrym said she’s grateful for her family’s support and to everyone who helps put the event together. Now serving as chairwoman for Sleep In for the Cure and co-chair of race teams, she said helping to run the race has been even more rewarding than running in it.
“Just knowing that I’m doing something for someone else and helping out an organization like that, that’s definitely a lot more gratifying,” she explained.