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Brown makes strides at walk for American Cancer Society

MOUNT AIRY — Preparing to walk during the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, Sherry Brown stood proudly with other survivors and their support systems in a sea of pink.

"I think I'm most excited to see everybody coming together," Sherry said. "There's such a great support here. Each year we come is another year that I can say, 'I'm here.""

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Sherry, of Mount Airy, was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer, in 2011.

"I felt the lump myself. I don't have a family history but it just didn't feel right. I went to the doctor and found out that the cancer was not in my lymph nodes. It started in my ducts and moved to the tissue," said Brown.

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Sherry, who is now on the committee for Making Strides, had a lumpectomy and received chemotherapy and radiation. She takes Tamoxifen, a maintenance drug, to maintain her estrogen levels.

"Recent research shows women should be on it for 10 years," Sherry said. "I feel pretty good now."

Sherry's husband Jack said his wife's diagnosis was a whirlwind.

"You drop everything you're doing to take care of her. For a good 18 months, it was an emotional journey getting her on the path to wellness," Jack said. "At the same time, I was trying to maintain a level of energy and humor around the house. I thought it was very important not to deviate from what we do on a daily basis."

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Jack said his wife's wellness is now just part of the daily routine.

"Now-a-days, I make sure she's taking her medicines and getting to her appointments but it's very easy because she's very vigilant," he said. "We don't make a big deal about it because we expect good news. They caught it early and I hope we got it licked."

Before Sherry was diagnosed, she was a regular participant in the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley. In 2012, she started participating in Making Strides.

"The major difference is that Komen is more of a race and Making Strides is a walk to celebrate life and continue to raise awareness," Sherry said.

Sherry prepares for the walk by exercising regularly and running occasionally. She also fundraises prior to the walk.

"I try to rally together the team members, mostly co-workers and family members, with social media. I also try to reach out to different groups to give a donation or create a team," Sherry said.

Sherry said her team has been a great support system.

"While I was sick, it was my family, my co-workers and a group of women I went to college with that kept me going. With their help, I was able to keep working through treatment," Sherry said.

Marla Henderson, of Ellicott City, has worked with Sherry for 15 years. Henderson's family has participated in the walk to support Sherry for the last three years.

"Sherry is the strongest person. Even when she's felt miserable, she's been so strong. She's my hero because she's so positive," Henderson said.

Jack said Sherry's positive attitude is part of the reason why she receives so much support from their community.

"She's the nicest person I've ever met in my life. Everybody she meets is enamored with her. Making Strides has given her avenue to express herself. It really given her an outlet for helping other people. She's really jumped in with both feet. I'm proud of her," Jack said.

Rebecca Barshick, of Catonsville, has been friends with Sherry since high school. They attended Juniata College in Huntington, Pa., together and both later moved to Maryland.

"Sherry is the sweetest, kindest person. She's incredibly thoughtful. We did the Komen race together because my mom was a breast cancer survivor. After she was diagnosed, she got more involved with Making Strides because it was at the local level. I come out to support her. It's one of those things that when you're there, it's overwhelming because you see the sheer number of people who have been touched by cancer," Barshick said.

Barshick said Sherry's involvement in Making Strides has been part of her healing journey.

"She's remarkable. She's a wonderful example of someone who was diagnosed, accepted it and moved forward. Women in general have such strength and she's a remarkable example of that," Barshick said.

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