This November, Nicole Harrison, 21, of Tewksbury, will walk alongside three generations of her family in the LUNGevity Foundation’s eighth annual Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk. Her family will walk 15 members strong under the umbrella “Karen’s Krew,” a returning walk team formed in honor of Harrison’s late aunt, Karen Ambrogne.
Ambrogne was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in the spring of 2010. Consequently, a full body CT scan was ordered, and revealed that the cancer had spread to her brain. She underwent one round of chemotherapy followed by a procedure in which the upper lobe of her left lung was removed. Despite the best efforts of all involved, Ambrogne’s health continued to decline. Within nine months of receiving her diagnosis, Ambrogne succumbed to the disease. She was 49 years old.
The Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk is a one-day fundraising event that raises funds for critical lung cancer research, advocacy and support across the country. On Saturday, Nov. 2, Harrison and her family will be among an expected 2,000 people to participate with the collective goal of raising $250,000. Since its 2006 inception, the Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk has raised more than $1 million. The event was founded by two lung cancer patients, the late Rich Kaufman and the late Geri Norris, with the support of a small group of family, friends and volunteers also touched by lung cancer.
Members of team “Karen’s Krew” will walk wearing white bandanas, the color of the national lung cancer awareness ribbon. Among the family members to participate are Harrison’s nephew, Owen, who at 16 months old will be pushed along the route in a stroller, and Ambrogne’s husband and teenage daughters whose courage and strength throughout their mother’s battle continues to inspire Harrison. The team hopes to raise $1,500.
“Being part of the Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk has really brought my family closer together, shining a positive light on a sad circumstance,” says Harrison. “It is a special day to honor the memory of my aunt and the people we meet and the stories we read on the Wall of Honor during the walk serve as a reminder that we are not alone in this fight to find a cure.”
Harrison utilizes social media to reach out to potential supporters and spread awareness about lung cancer and the Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk. She is also in the process of designing a poster to be hung at the Dunkin’ Donuts in which she works, where she tells customers about the walk and how and why they should get involved.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, claiming approximately 160,000 lives every year. It can afflict anyone, regardless of smoking history, gender, or ethnicity. Currently, only 16 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years post-diagnosis. With early detection, there is hope of long-term survivorship.
LUNGevity Foundation is the nation’s largest private organization dedicated to research for the early detection and treatment of lung cancer. The Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk is one of more than 80 LUNGevity events that take place annually across the country. Since 2002, they have collectively raised more than $11.4 million. Participants often walk in honor of someone currently battling lung cancer or in memory of someone lost to the disease. Individuals and/or businesses are encouraged to sign up as teams. The walk will kick-off at 11 a.m. at DCR’s Mother’s Rest Area in South Boston. The course is stroller and wheelchair-friendly.
To register for the Breathe Deep Boston 5K Walk on Nov. 2, or to support a walker, visit lungevity.org/boston or call (312) 407-6100. Participants can enter the discount code BREATHE for $5 off the registration fee. November is lung cancer awareness month.