Regional cancer fundraiser Saturday

Area breast cancer survivors will lead more than 2,000 runners and walkers on Saturday in the 2011 Susan G. Komen N.C. Foothills Race for the Cure.

Race officials say the annual event is expected to draw large crowds to the 5k course surrounding Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. More than 2,500 people participated in last year’s race.

The event raises money for breast cancer education, screening and treatment. Already, the N.C. Foothills affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has committed to donating $150,000 to agencies in Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties. Combined with funds raised through national marketing, the affiliate was able to contribute more than $40,000 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Grants Program for research, according to a press release from the Foothills affiliate.

While finding a cure for breast cancer is the ultimate goal of the race, registered breast cancer survivors are also recognized for their victories at the event. Registered survivors receive a pink T-shirt and hat, and they are treated to a breakfast in their honor.

Officials also select honorary race chairs that lead the 5k timed run/walk on Saturday. This year, a breast cancer survivor from each of the affiliate counties – Catawba, Burke and Caldwell – was selected.

In Catawba County, race officials selected Erin Sipe of Conover. Sipe was diagnosed with breast cancer on Thanksgiving 2010. She was 34.

After six treatments of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and continued Herceptin treatments throughout this year, she models courage and strength for her two daughters, Kara, 9, and Anna, 7.

After her diagnosis, Sipe finished her season as a Girls on the Run assistant coach by walking with the Girls on the Run 5K only a few days after having her port placed for chemo to begin. As her way of keeping the battle positive, Sipe had her daughters and husband, Kevin, go with her to have her 12 inches of long, curly hair cut by her hair dresser, she said.

Once chemo began, Sipe had Kevin shave her head.

“I took my hair; cancer did not,” she said.

Since her diagnosis, she said she has been contacted by numerous acquaintances asking her to speak with loved ones who have recently been diagnosed.

Sipe homeschools both her daughters, and she also teaches weekly English enrichment classes for students in grades 3-12. She has also been a public high school educator and has served as the director of children’s ministry at her church.

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