NEW YORK—Dancing along to the beat of the music, Sharon Haynie twisted her arms and legs giddily, her plastic pink sunglasses bouncing up and down as she moved.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Haynie, 52, said she keeps her spirits up through the support of her many friends, some also fighting the disease.
Haynie, who attended the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk said, “It’s a hard struggle, but I take it one day at a time.”
The walk, organized by the American Cancer Society and held in Central Park on Sunday, is in its 21st year.
Breast cancer survivors and those still fighting the disease, their family members, and friends, walk 5 miles through Central Park to raise awareness and charity funds for the disease.
Over a dozen musicians and performers, ranging from hip-hop to country music, were part of a lineup at the Naumburg Bandshell to entertain the participants.
The atmosphere was a celebratory one, full of women and men decked in pink gear: pink sweaters, headbands, sneakers, wigs, and even tutus. At the finish line, people were cheering, smiling widely for selfies, and dancing to music blaring through the loudspeakers.
“It’s uplifting,” Hortencia Burgos said of the breast cancer walk. She explained that seeing so many people support cancer survivors encourages her.
For example, during the walk, one lady distributed pink headbands that she crocheted herself. Another gave out bottles of wine.
Burgos, 58, said that throughout her struggle with the disease, she found it most challenging to find someone to talk to.
After being diagnosed with a malignant cancer in 2001, Burgos was unsure whether she should choose a lobectomy to remove the lump in her breast, or undergo a mastectomy to completely remove her breast and prevent the cancer cells from returning.
When she called the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) hotline, the operator encouraged her to do what she felt most comfortable with. “ACS said, ‘How do you feel about it?’ Because I was the one who had to live with the decision,” Burgos said.
She has participated in the walk every year since 2001.
Lanae Richardson, 44, said her biggest challenge was “not knowing the outcome, if it will [breast cancer] return, and I’ll have to fight all over again.”
She said she got the courage to overcome the disease because of her family. “I have lots of children and grandkids. It’s mandatory that I stay alive, so I can be there for them.”
Organizers estimate that at least 60,000 attended the walk this year.