Waterborne Soldiers get moving for breast cancer awareness
November 1, 2010
FORT EUSTIS, VA. (Oct. 22, 2010) - Did you know breast cancer will strike approximately one in eight women, a startling statistic according to data provided by the National Cancer Institute. Waterborne Soldiers assigned to the 10th Transportation Battalion in conjunction with Beyond Boobs, a Virginia based non-profit organization, held a 'Run for a Cure' October 22. Soldiers, family members, and survivors taking part in the event showed their support by wearing pink, the color long associated with the breast cancer.
Specialist Sara Dudley-Lee, a former Waterborne Soldier who is now assigned to the Warrior in Transition Unit at Fort Eustis, and Sgt. 1st Class Loretta Daniels, currently assigned to the 10th Transportation Battalion, showed their courage and commitment during the walk / run proudly decked out in pink attire. The two women marched proudly alongside the other members of the Waterborne battalion.
Following the run / walk Dudley-Lee and Daniels shared their heartfelt stories with the crowd and helped to educate others on the dangers and risks of breast cancer.
Daniels, who's cancer has been in remission for three months, exuberance and spirit to fight was evident throughout her address. The pride the battalion holds for her as a breast cancer survivor could not be denied as evidenced by the flood of cheering as she finished sharing her story.
Daniels chose to focus on the strength and resiliency she incorporated during the 'fight for her life'.
"Cancer's power is limited," she said to the crowd. It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot eat away peace. It cannot destroy confidence. It cannot kill friendship. It cannot shut out memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot reduce eternal life. It cannot quench the spirit."
Standing by her side providing moral support was Daniel's sister, Olivia Pierce.
"Cancer is not the end," said Pierce. You can beat this with the support of family and friends and by having a strong faith in God."
While Daniels has beaten the disease, Dudley-Lee is still in the throes of battle.
Diagnosed with stage IIIB breast cancer this January at the tender age of 25, Dudley-Lee has endured a bilateral mastectomy, lymph-node dissection, 10 sessions of chemotherapy, 40 rounds of radiation, and hormone therapy, all while taking care of her two little boys and serving in the Army. She candidly describes her treatment, there was no sugar coating during her testimony.
"In other words, they cut my boobs off and poisoned me, all in the hopes of saving me," said Dudley-Lee. "I lost all my hair and my femininity. Trust me, this isn't a haircut, this is re-growth. It's by the grace of God and medical advancement that I am standing here today."
The 10th Transportation Battalion has come together as a family offering support to Dudley-Lee during her life and death battle with cancer. Soldiers and leaders have provided a non-stop source of caring ears for listening and sturdy sets of shoulders to cry on when she needed it most. Standing proudly in the ranks was her husband, Cpl. Jonathan Lee of the 73rd Transportation Company.
Tears welled in her bright blue eyes as she spoke to him.
"To my Jon, you are my husband and best friend," said Dudley-Lee. You stood next to me through surgeries, chemo, and appointments. You held my puke bucket while caressing my bald head. All the while telling me how great I was doing."
At one point she removed her white cap to show her scalp which is sprinkled with short hair. Finally, her hair is beginning to grow back, but the cancer is far from gone. She still has upcoming treatments and a long way to go. It is clear when talking to Dudley-Lee that even after she heals, breast cancer will always be an issue held close to heart, not just her "ta ta's" as she calls them.
Dudley-Lee is a proud 'Boober,' a survivor and member of Beyond Boobs, a non-profit organization providing support for young women diagnosed with breast cancer and education about breast health. Accompanying Dudley-Lee to the 'Run for a Cure,' was Beyond Boobs co-founder, Rene' Bowditch.
Clad in a pink fairy outfit complete with wand Bowditch spoke to the group about the importance of early detection.
"Early detection saves lives," she said. Monthly self (breast) exams and regular mammograms are essential to catching this devastating disease and saving lives."
Support for the event was enormous. Soldiers, spouses, friends, and children stood tall in the wee hours of the morning to show their support for the courageous individuals battling this cancer.
"This disease affects most people in some form," said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Bonneau, 73rd Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion. Almost everyone knows someone diagnosed with breast cancer. I couldn't imagine someone not having a mom because of breast cancer."