Eve Preste is tall and beautiful, and looks like the model she used to be. But now she wears a pink rhinestone symbol around her neck, and talks to people about radiation and chemotherapy.
Last February, her doctor found a suspicious lump during a routine checkup. A week later, she had a mammogram and ultrasound and asked her husband to “hurry over” when the results came in. “Right then and there, I knew that I had a problem,” she said. “Sure enough, the doctor found something.”
Still in treatment, but as upbeat as anyone could be, Preste was the speaker at an American Cancer Society team leader workshop before the Oct. 27 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton.
Recovering well from a bilateral mastectomy and other surgeries in March, she formed a team called Pink Blossoms for the Walk, and has refocused her activities.
Her ebook, “My Journey through Breast Cancer,” will come out later this month. She’s now a cancer coach, a certified hypnotist and leased space where her physician husband practices for a wellness center in Fort Lauderdale.
“This situation allowed me to step back, slow down and reassess my life,” she said. “I realized my mission was to help others who live in fear. We don’t just beat breast cancer, we accept it and use ourselves as role models and support systems.”
She’s grateful her gynecologist found the symptoms in time, and calls her medical team “the true heroes.”
Last year’s Making Strides in Boca had 383 teams of walkers they called Striders, and raised $353,000. Organizers hope to up the ante this year. “To me, this walk is about raising awareness and tonight is about raising money,” said Dr. Jane Skelton, a breast cancer oncologist at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and the walk chairwoman this year. “We set ourselves a very high goal.”
“We have a great venue and hope we have great weather, and we can make this great logistically,” said vice chairman Jason Forstot. But he said the key to success are the team leaders, as he went through a checklist on strategies for success, like setting goals and recruiting other Striders who will raise donations.
Ken Halpern, an IT specialist at Mutual of America, talked about how to form a team in the workplace and build interest. As walk sponsor, the company he works for allows pink piggy banks to collect spare change and other activities and matches donations. He uses Facebook and email and has raised $1,600 alone as a team leader. “Let people know what you do and why you’re doing it,” he said. “Everyone has somebody you love who’s fighting this or has lost the fight. I had to get involved with this.”
Audra Cardillo had an aunt who died on her 51st birthday 20 years ago. Now Cardillo is the American Cancer Society South Palm Beach Unit’s community representative. “By the time my 8-year-old is a mother, I hope she’s never heard of this,” she said. “That’s my aspiration.”
For information on the 11th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, visit putonyourpinkbra.com/bocaraton or call Cardillo at 561-394-7751, ext. 5310.