DETROIT (WXYZ) — Sunday morning, thousands of breast cancer survivors, thrivers and advocates converged on Belle Isle to take part in the 2022 Komen Detroit Race For the Cure.
The annual event saw over 3,000 runners and walkers complete the 5k course to remember the lives lost to the disease and to raise awareness about the millions of people fighting and winning their battle against cancer.
At the start line, Steve Ekizian rocked a pink hair headband. The 52-year-old has been taking part in the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure since 2000.
"Still a celebration for people that are struggling. My mom has gone through breast cancer, and neighbors, just too many unfortunately to count," said Steve Ekizian, runner at the 2022 Komen Detroit Race for the Cure.
One of them - Steve’s wife. Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.
"She had really aggressive treatment and it was put off for 10 years. She was in 100% remission and got to see our boys, but when she just turned 40, she found out her breast cancer had come back," Steve said.
Rachel lost her fight against the disease in 2019. Now Steve, his two sons, family, and friends all join together at events like Race for the Cure to carry on Rachel’s fight by creating awareness.
Three years later, Steve still remembers his wife as the epitome of strength and courage.
"The time she had left, she wanted to do things like this," said Steve.
Recent data from the CDC shows about 1 in 8 women across the country will develop breast cancer. On average, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
For Elise Harris, the race brings back bittersweet memories. The 55-year-old is not only honoring her mother and grandmother who lost their fight against breast cancer. But, she is also acting as a beacon of hope after surviving breast cancer three times.
"We are all here to help and encourage each other," said Elise Harris, a walker at the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure 2022.
As for advice, Elise says, early detection is key.
"Know your family history. Get your genetic testing. Get your monthly exams. Get familiar with your body. Get your pap smear and just take a proactive approach towards your health," said Elise.
Although medical science has come a long way to help treat cancer, Elsie says there is still more to be done.
"More funding [is needed] for research so we can find a cure. I’m praying in my lifetime, maybe my niece and nephew's lifetime, we find a cure, so we can put all this behind us, and focus on something else, instead of so many people dying, especially young black women at a young age," said Elise.