It was a gorgeous September day in the Pacific Northwest — the kind that makes you want to get out and explore a new hiking trail while the weather is still nice. That’s what Cheri Hanson and her son were doing when she felt a burning sensation on her chest that seemed to get worse the longer she wore her backpack.
It wasn’t the first time she noticed it, but it was the most painful. She had a lymph node removed from her neck a few months earlier, which was non-cancerous. But this pain was different.
At her next follow-up appointment, Hanson decided to mention what she was experiencing to her doctor just before he left the room.
“From that day on, our lives have been forever changed,” Hanson says.
In October 2016, results from a mammogram determined that she had a particularly aggressive type of cancer called triple negative breast cancer. She started chemo before the end of the month and continued treatments until March 2018. Hanson also received radiation and underwent a mastectomy.
Throughout her entire journey, Hanson was thankful for a place she visited on a monthly basis for support — the MultiCare Cancer Center. She found comfort in the weekly support groups that were offered to patients from all over the state.
“I wouldn’t have made it through my journey as well as I did without them,” Hanson says. “It was so important to be able to gather with others that are going through a similar journey, but it’s nearly impossible to do that at the doctor’s office. It’s been such a huge blessing for me — I could say a lifesaver, really.”
Hanson also participated in the complimentary “Look Good, Feel Better” skin and makeup classes, and picked out a wig from the Wig Room when she started to lose her hair from chemo.
She’s also grateful for Come Walk With Me, MultiCare’s annual fundraising event to support breast cancer patients. The largest breast cancer walk in Pierce County happens every year on the first Saturday in October in downtown Sumner. All proceeds benefit breast health programs at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, like the ones that helped Hanson. She walked for the first time in 2017, and has a team of her own ready to walk again this year.
“We had such a great experience at Come Walk With Me last time,” she says. “There was pink all over. We walked through town and there were business people out on the sidewalks cheering us on. The community support, it was just amazing. We knew we wanted to be part of it in a bigger sense this year.”
Hanson is still fighting her battle with breast cancer, but thanks to donations from those who participate in Come Walk With Me, she knows she’ll have the resources and support she needs to help her through her journey.
Join us for Come Walk With Me on Saturday, Oct. 6. Visit comewalkwithme5k.org to register today.
McKenna Hoecherl is a communication specialist for the Foundations of MultiCare. She writes stories that connect readers to the impact of giving. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.