Angie Lutz has always tried to remain as healthy as she can.
She watches what she eats and does more than her fair share of exercise lifting weights and leading classes at the Towson fitness facility, Nevermore CrossFit, which she co-owns with her fiance.
That’s why, when the 45-year-old Lutz was diagnosed a third time with breast cancer in 2016, after having a double mastectomy in 2004, the news came as a shock.
This time, the cancer has metastasized, spreading to her liver, lungs, spine and bones and requires three weeks of chemotherapy a month.
Doctors have told her most patients live an average of six years after they are diagnosed, she said. Despite the odds, she is hopeful and focused on continuing to fight the disease and enjoying life with her future husband, she said.
“Once it’s [spread] there’s no cure,” said Lutz, a Towson resident who also is employed as a physical therapist assistant at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. “They try to maintain and keep it from getting worse, but I keep doing everything I was doing because I feel like it keeps me sane.”
Since her third diagnosis, Lutz has hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim, visited Hawaii and learned to build furniture, but is putting together no bucket list, she said. Instead, she’s switched her perspective on life to living in the moment and saying yes to only the things she really wants to do.
She is also focused on giving back by volunteering. As part of her continuing battle against cancer, she will join a Towson-based nonprofit, The Red Devils, for its 15th annual PJ5K at Oregon Ridge Park, in Cockeysville, on Sunday.
The PJ5K raises money to help women in Maryland battling breast cancer; the event features a 5K run, a one-mile family fun run where participants are encouraged to dress in their pajamas, an obstacle course that Lutz will host, games, such as lawn bowling, along with children’s activities and a pancake breakfast open to participants and their families.
“Red Devil” is a nickname for a chemotherapy drug that’s commonly used in treating cancer. Its bright red color and powerful effect on the body is said to take patients “to hell and back,” according to Red Devils executive director Jan Wilson.
Since its founding in 2002, the organization has raised $3.1 million to pay for transportation, family support services, medical services and treatment-related therapies, Wilson said.
Organizers hope to register 700 people for the event. In the past, about 400 have participated each year.
“I don’t think there’s another pajama run in the state,” Wilson said. “This distinguishes us from other races and. combined with the field day activities. makes for a family-friendly focus.”
“Anyone of us can be dealing with breast cancer,” Wilson added. “It’s an equal opportunity villain, and you just don’t know who in your orbit can benefit from this. It’s an opportunity to do well in your community and treat yourself to a good time.”
The obstacle course, which is open to participants and their families, will be hosted by Lutz and her fiance, Kevin Lynch. At the couple’s Towson fitness facilty, Lutz teaches CrossFit, which is essentially a high intensity interval training workout that focuses on “functional fitness” using such items as tractor tires, kettle bells and body weight exercises to build strength.
Lutz said she intends to tackle the obstacle course, which will include flipping tires as well as a balance beam, hay bales and burpees, a full-body exercise that combines a squat, push up and jump into one.
“My cardio is not what it used to be,” Lutz said of choosing not to run the event’s 5K. “Every now and then I get frustrated, but the fact that I’m doing it is a joy in itself.”
Online registration is open at http://www.the-red-devils.org. Registrations will also be accepted the day of the event starting at 7:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30 a.m., and the pancake breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m.
The first 500 people who register will receive a commemorative 15th anniversary T-shirt featuring a crab in the colors of the Maryland flag.
Registration is $35 for participants ages 13 and older or $15 for children ages 8 to 12, with an additional $5 for chip timing. Children under 8 are free.
“You give to these bigger corporations and you don’t know where that’s going but with Red Devils you know the money is staying locally,” Lutz said.