By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer
Breast cancer survivor Charla Lee credits her friend with helping her through treatment.
“I was wallowing and drowning in it,” Lee said. “She kept me from sinking.”
Lee, a two-year survivor, and her friend Cindy Barthold, a six-year survivor, together walked the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at South Lakes Park on Saturday.
This was the second year for the Denton race, which raises money for breast health programs.
The two friends shared hugs and tears as they recollected how Barthold shared her journal with Lee so she would know what to expect.
They went to elementary school together and reconnected on Facebook shortly after Lee was diagnosed.
Lee and Barthold walked the course with their family and friends, wearing red shirts that read “Boobzinga: The Benign Boob Theory,” inspired by their favorite TV show, The Big Bang Theory.
Despite the morning drizzle, a couple thousand people sporting pink participated in the race. Some stayed for the closing ceremonies, although others left early because of the weather.
“It’s been an amazing day,” said Mary Frances Hoover, executive director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Texas. “The weather cooperated as much as it could.”
Following the 5-kilometer run/walk around the park, survivors were recognized.
Kerri Perry, a doctor in Denton who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, was one of the participants.
Perry, who performs lumpectomies and mastectomies, said she was lucky because her cancer was diagnosed early and she didn’t need chemotherapy.
She encourages women to start getting mammograms when they turn 40 because that’s how hers was caught.
Her team — Perry’s Posse, the largest medical team that participated in the race — won second place for T-shirt design.
The team’s T-shirts read, “Wanted: Cure for Breast Cancer.”
Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. was the presenting sponsor of the race and won first place for its T-shirt design, created by one of the company’s employees.
About 90 percent of the company’s customers are women and the majority of its employees are also women, so it’s a natural fit, said Jan Roberts, director of corporate communication for Sally Beauty.
Last year, the company raised $1 million for the foundation and plans to raise just as much this year, she said. Next year, the company will pay the entry fee for any employee who wants to participate in the race, Roberts said.
Lee encourages people to participate in next year’s race, which is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2013.
Lee and Barthold’s advice to others with breast cancer is to find someone who has gone through it and help others going through it.
“And you can go ahead and cry,” Lee said. “And be sad and be mad. But then fight.”
She said she thought her diagnosis was a death sentence, but it’s not.
Barthold said treatment has come a long way since her mother had cancer 30 years ago.
“It’s not easy, but you can get through it,” Barthold said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.