Breast cancer survivor offers encouragement to others

Race for the Cure is Saturday
Breast cancer survivor offers encouragement to others

The South Central Wisconsin Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is set for Saturday in Madison, and ahead of the event, a breast cancer survivor said she is proof that a diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

At least once a month, career coach Bridget McCurtis is at the Dane County Regional Airport boarding a plane.

“I live a very vibrant happy life. I travel quite a bit I have a good life,” McCurtis said.

She said slowing down isn’t an option for her, not even for breast cancer.

“I had seven weeks of radiation treatment. Then I had a lumpectomy, in March of 2008. I was only 34 years old,” McCurtis said.

With no family history of the disease, McCurtis said she credits her self exams and early detection with saving her life.

“There aren’t very many people who look like me and there definitely aren’t people who look like me who are saying and acknowledging, ‘I had breast cancer.’ So, I do think in that sense I am an ambassador. I have a story to tell, and I have a positive story to tell,” McCurtis said.

The South Central Wisconsin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is working to improve survival rates for black women.

“Four of our nine grants this year focus on outreach to the African-American community and two are large grants in Rock County,” said Executive Director Michelle Heitzinger.

Heitzinger said education is key.

“For many years, they thought it was something that affected white women, and if a black woman got it, she died. So, we had to kind of overcome that and do some education to say that there is hope; there are women surviving after a diagnosis,” Heitzinger said.

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McCurtis said she’s proud to be a survivor. Now 38, she’s using her experience to encourage all women to keep a positive attitude.

“I decided this was not going to take me out,” McCurtis said. “There’s no way this was going to be all that she wrote.”

One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

WISC-TV is a sponsor of the South Central Wisconsin Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and there is still time to sign up at www.komensouthcentralwi.org.

The race will be held Saturday at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

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