A million things go through your head when you hear the words, “You have cancer.”
That’s according to Lynne Blom, a Sykesville native now living in Glenelg who was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in August 2017.
“I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a grandmother and I think to myself, ‘I’m going to leave all this behind,’ that was my first thought,” she said. “Then I turned it around and said, ‘Not yet.’ ”
They call you a cancer “survivor” from the moment you are diagnosed, Blom said, “and now I know why — because we figure out how we’re going to control it, how we're going to beat it.”
But, she added, “We can't do it alone.”
Getting involved with the American Cancer Society, the research information and related supportive groups, Blom said, made a huge difference for her.
“I reached out to the American Cancer Society and I found these amazing women who have been touched by it or are in the same situation,” she said. “We understand each other and become a sisterhood that is beyond any sorority or any family you can imagine.”
The American Cancer Society raises funds to support cancer patients such as Blom, in part through its annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks, including the one that will be held Sunday in Mount Airy.
“Making Strides is a breast cancer awareness walk. It’s a 5K that is held all over the country,” said Victoria Colosimo, community development manager for the American Cancer Society. “There are 200 to 300 events across the country. This is the eighth year we’re having it in Mount Airy.”
It will be the first year for Blom; she is also serving on the walk committee.
“When I was younger and I was a runner, I would participate in the Susan B. Komen race, but I did it for the run, I didn’t do it for the cause. I didn’t realize how much it mean to somebody else, until now,” she said. “This is my first Making Strides walk, my first year to be on the committee and the first of many, I hope.”
Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. Sunday in Watkins Park, 615 Center St., though Colosimo noted that walkers may register in advance online at www.makingstrideswalk.org/centralmd. Those who wish to raise funds as well as awareness may make a contribution the time of registration or even after the race, she said.
“You have until the end of the year to contribute to this year’s Making Strides goals,” Colosimo said. “So even if they don’t make the walk, you can still contribute to the goal.”
Last year, the Mount Airy walk raised $100,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to Colosimo.
Blom has created a team of 15 friends and family for this year’s walk.
“My team is called the Cancer Warriors and I created a Facebook page that tells my story,” she said. “I set my goal at $3,000 and I am halfway there.”
Knowing that those funds will be going toward breast cancer research is important to Blom because she has already benefited from past research.
“When I was diagnosed, I said to my oncologist, ‘Can you give me five years?’ He said, ‘I’m going to give you more because this is not your 1970s breast cancer. There are new things happening all the time,’ ” she said. “I am not curable, but I am treatable. I was seven tumors, down to two. So it’s working.”
Even more important to Blom is spreading awareness, helping others connect with the meaning of events like Sunday’s walk in a way she had not before her diagnosis.
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“Everybody walks around saying, ‘That will never happen to me,’ ” she said. “But it can happen to you. and it can happen to your mother, or your sister or your daughter.”