Dear Friends and Family,
As you may know, my beautiful mother Sheila Bebchick passed away on April 18 after fighting advanced breast cancer for close to 10 years. Throughout all the almost daily treatments, doctors’ appointments, clinical trials and tests, she stayed positive and strong up until the very end. She continues to be my constant inspiration and my hero. I miss her terribly.
Many people have asked me over the past few months if we will continue with Team Sheila. My answer is always, why wouldn’t we? While the race this year will no doubt be difficult without the physical presence of my mom in her pink survivor shirt, we know she would want us to continue to tell our story and do what we can to find a cure for this horrible disease. We will run to honor her fight, our story and her memory.
In early December 2013, just after my 39th birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. In light of my family history, I had been a part of a high-risk surveillance group, demanding early mammograms and ultrasounds, which ultimately led to the early detection of my cancer and may have even saved my life.
Inspired by my mother’s example, I found the most amazing team of doctors and made the difficult decision to be as aggressive as possible with surgery: a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Multiple planned surgeries and countless doctor visits under my belt, I am living my new normal and have reached my 3.5-year survivorship.
Despite my diagnosis and everything subsequent, I still consider myself lucky; my breast cancer was caught early. I tested negative for BRCA and all other known genetic panels (despite me now being 4th generation) and the cancer was small enough and didn’t spread to my lymph nodes enabling me to avoid any chemotherapy and radiation.
There is a great deal of time spent thinking when you are confronted with a life-changing illness. It is hard to put your breast cancer behind you when you’ve watched a family member struggle; when friends call and tell you they’ve been diagnosed; when you see pink everywhere. This is why we race. This is why I don’t stay silent. You can do everything right--exercise, live a healthy lifestyle, even run marathons-and it can still happen. The time is now for all of us to stand up and do what each of us can to make a difference.
Be an advocate for yourself and others!
Don’t put off screening for breast cancer!
A fortune cookie revealed, “It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” Well, I decided long ago that I would take on this experience and not let it break me. I would be a support system for anyone who needs me. I would continue to raise money and run breast cancer out of town.
I miss my mother so much and I know on race day she will be with me in spirit as I run in memory of her and in honor of all the other breast cancer warriors and supporters. We do this so that one day we can eventually live in a world where cancer doesn’t exist.
In 2016, we raised an astounding, $35,784 and over the past seven years, a total of $115,000. I will never forget having the honor of ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on behalf of the Greater NYC Komen Chapter two year’s ago, being interviewed on live tv before the race and accepting Komen’s Greater NYC Co-Survivor of the Year Award on behalf of my family in 2015 and receiving the Stronger Than You Think Award on behalf of Team Sheila last year.
Please join Team Sheila today. Bring your family! Bring your kids! Our shirts are super cool and we have them for all ages! If you are unable to be there in person, please consider making a donation.
Your continued support means so much to our family. I can’t wait to see you on September 10, 2017.