After beating cancer, woman plans to raise awareness

By Katie Demeria

STRASBURG — The day Mamie Mitchell of Strasburg turned 40, she found out she had Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. She decided her 41st birthday would be different.

Mitchell is holding her Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer on Saturday — the day she turns 41.

“My 40th birthday wasn’t very fun, so what better way to celebrate 41 than with other great people?” she asked.

When Mitchell was diagnosed, the cancer had already spread to other parts of her body. She explained to her 9-year-old son that she might not be as strong as usual and her hair might fall out. He guessed it was cancer on his own.

“That was probably the hardest part of all of it,” Mitchell said.

The chemotherapy was successful, though, and her cancer went into remission by October of 2013.

“I only had six months of crazy,” she said. “And some people go through much more.”

When she was almost finished with her treatment, Mitchell had the same dream four nights in a row — she said it was about having a community event to help other people.

She acted on those dreams, she said, and started planning an event that would not only raise money for ovarian cancer research, but would help many others in need throughout the community.

The event will include a stress-free 5k, she said, starting on the river walk at the Strasburg Park. Those participating can choose to walk or run and will feel no pressure if they decide not to run.

“We’re all going to be in it together, no one is watching, and if you finish it, no one can take that away from you,” she said.

Adult registration is $30 per person, and all donations will benefit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, an organization working to raise education on ovarian cancer and help fund research.

Mitchell said she wants to raise awareness. She has no ovarian cancer in her family history and said she wants to make sure people know how important it is to get regular check ups from a doctor.

But her goal is not to just increase education about ovarian cancer. The funds raised from the event’s door prize — a brand new washing machine — will go to some local women who are also battling cancer, such as Gretchen King, Carolyn Guinn and Kristina Ramsey.

King has stage four lung cancer and does not have health insurance, Guinn is currently fighting leukemia, and Ramsey has stage two breast cancer and is not insured, either.

Another local woman, Kristi Fernandez, will be there to let people know about a scholarship she is starting in memory of her son, who passed way after a heroin overdose.

The run will include representatives from It Works, Avon and Mary Kay, and a stand selling homemade jewelry, as well. Mitchell said she wanted to do something to provide women with a way to feel good about their bodies.

“I want to help people, and I want to set a good example for my son,” Mitchell said. “I could sit around and cry, but that’s now how I want to be.”

The event starts at noon Saturday at the Strasburg Park. Those interested in participating can register there or email mamiebeatcancerin2013@gmail.com to find out more.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com