Because of the pandemic, last year the Susan G. Komen’s annual Downtown West Palm Beach run and walk to raise breast-cancer awareness and research funds went virtual.
On Saturday, however, the popular event — which draws thousands of participants and spectators — will be back at its familiar staging area at Meyer Amphitheater — with a new name.
Instead of being called “Race for the Cure,” the 2022 event is called the “Komen More Than Pink Walk.”
“We changed the name to put the focus back on fundraising rather than racing,” Susan G. Komen Florida Development Director Tia Isoff-Celestin said. “We wanted to offer the community an opportunity to come out and give it their all from a fundraising perspective, to be enveloped in the whole experience. Avid runners can still run, but we wanted to make it more open to everyone and be more inclusive to families.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, is that the organization still selects a half-dozen local women annually to honor for their courage and grace during their breast cancer journeys.
So, let’s meet the 2022 Warriors in Pink.
Age: 57; lives in Jupiter.
Boyce is a counselor at Glades Central Community High School. She grew up in Hicksville, NY, and has been living in Florida for 20 years.
She enjoys paddling water sports, walking, crocheting, and reading. “I am incredibly thankful, humble, grateful, and proud to be a Warrior for 2022,” she said
A member of the Jupiter Medical Center “Living with Breast Cancer” support group since June 2014, Boyce said, “I hope that I have been able to help others. My goal and mission are to be an inspiration to others by raising awareness about Aesthetic Flat Closure (AFC) as a viable option for women who are facing mastectomy due to a breast cancer diagnosis. It is important to be aware that reconstruction surgery is not the same as breast augmentation surgery. Women must be made aware of all of the facts and make an informed decision about their choice of surgery.”
“I am most thankful for the kindness and selflessness of others who have helped me during my breast cancer journey," she said. "I am truly grateful for my entire family, my medical and support teams at Jupiter Medical Center and at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, my friends, and so many others. Thinking about their support brings tears to my eyes.”
Age: 36; lives in Loxahatchee.
Duff is a human resources manager for Buckeye Plumbing, Inc. She was born and raised in Loxahatchee where she still resides with her husband of 14 years and two children, ages 11 and 6. When she isn’t working, Sara loves spending time with her family, traveling, boating, and playing volleyball with her daughter.
For Duff, being chosen a Warrior gives her the opportunity to “show others that if one day they ever have to go down this road, they’ll know that there’s hope.”
She recalled when someone did that for her.
“I was in my second or third week of chemo and just reeling from all the side effects and changes in my body,” said Duff. “My chemo nurse introduced me to a woman named Kristy, who sat with me and was so open and kind. She shared all the secrets she had learned that made those changes bearable. She was fighting her own cancer battle but still had time for me. That was a game-changer.”
She recommended for all women who may be facing their own cancer journeys to “feel all of the feelings you have and don’t be sorry if that makes other people uncomfortable. You just need time to allow your mind and heart to get around this life-changing diagnosis.”
Age: 52; lives in Jupiter Farms.
Perry has worked in human resources for Florida Power and Light for the past 25 years. She was born and raised in Williamsburg, Va., and moved to Florida at age 15. She and her husband, Scott, have five adult children and one grandson.
Perry believes that being chosen a Warrior enables her to show that “I am living proof of how important the mission of Komen is — raising disease awareness, early detection, and continuous research. Being selected to share my story to encourage others can truly help save lives.”
Perry knows how fortunate she is that breast cancer treatment has advanced as much as it has in recent years.
“A very pivotal moment for me in my journey was when my oncologist told me my cancer was very aggressive and that five years ago, the treatment and potential outcomes were very different,” she recalled. “Now, however, there was a drug we could use before surgery that has been very effective in treating my type of cancer. It wasn’t available just five years prior. I knew then that the continued research to end breast cancer was real and progress was happening and now I was able to benefit from it.”
Perry is also thankful to her husband and family for being by her side the entire way.
“After 12 years as a single mother, I met the man of my dreams,” she said. “We were engaged to be married in March 2017. It was one month before our wedding when we got my diagnosis. I felt blessed to have this amazing man by my side, along with my children and friends. I took it one day at a time and when sometimes it would get overwhelming, those around me would lift me up to continue fighting.”
Since then, she says “I found a community of breast cancer survivors and I learned so much from each of them. I have found that everyone’s journey is different, everyone’s treatment is different. But now I can be a source of comfort and support for those who are diagnosed.”
Age: 35; lives in Boynton Beach.
Stephens is a cosmetologist who recently went back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in business entrepreneurship and innovative leadership and will graduate in May. She moved to South Florida in March 2020 after living in North Carolina for 10 years. She is an avid scuba diver and an animal lover who has volunteered with rescue organizations.
“It’s an extreme honor both to be nominated and selected to be with these other strong warriors,” said Stephens. “Being nominated means I touched someone in such an impactful way that they thought I would make a great ambassador for Komen. Being chosen as a warrior means I am now gifted the opportunity to touch the lives of others and become a beacon of hope for others who are fighting this same battle.”
Stephens found her first lump doing a self-exam at age 33. After surgeries and treatment, she thought she “was in the clear until I found my second lump during a self-exam just 18 months later.” After more treatments, she was thrilled when she got to “ring my third and final cancer treatment bell in August.”
She wants to use her professional training to uplift other breast cancer survivors.
“My goals are to do something with cosmetology and breast cancer. I would love to have a mobile salon where I pair up with cancer centers and hospitals to offer complimentary wig styling, haircuts, and beauty tips to make warriors feel more confident when they look in the mirror and struggle to recognize the person staring back,” she said. “Instead of letting cancer hold my goals hostage, I am using it to make new goals. My mission is to give back in the way I know how.”
Age: 38; lives in West Palm Beach.
Volmy is a nurse who lives with her parents and two children — son Damari, 12, and daughter, Zari, 10. Volmy is the youngest of eight children and is passionate about helping better the lives of others.
For Volmy “being chosen as a Warrior means I have survived the challenges and obstacles life has thrown my way. By staying strong and having faith, I’ve come to believe that anything is possible.”
She's also grateful for all the support her friends in her children’s youth sports teams have given her.
“A moment that stood out to me is when my Flex Football family came together and surprised me with a donation and encouraging words,” she said. “It stood out because they really didn't have to do it but to see them come together like a family really spoke volumes. One of the team mothers even got her employer to donate and be a part of the family. It was a right-on-time moment — like, just when you think you’re in a fight alone God finds some way to remind you that you’re not alone.”
Sadly, Montgomery — a 40-year-old schoolteacher and entrepreneur who was born and raised in West Palm Beach — lost her battle with cancer on Thanksgiving Day. She left behind four children — three sons and one daughter. Her oldest child is in college. Her two middle ones are in high school and her youngest is in elementary school. Montgomery’s family described her as “an amazing mother, daughter, friend and sister who loved helping others and attending her sons’ football games.”
“We are all devastated by Chakela’s death but hope to use her story as a way to promote screening and early exams,” said Susan G. Komen Florida’s Isoff-Celestin. “Chakela was a true Warrior right up until the end and we will honor her memory this year.”
IF YOU GO
What: 2022 Komen West Palm Beach More Than Pink Walk
When: Saturday; registration starts at 7 a.m. and walk begins at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Meyer Amphitheater, 104 Datura St., West Palm Beach.
For more information: Visit komen.org.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County's 2022 Warriors in Pink