By: Sharon Aron Baron
Over 2,000 runners and walkers will be lacing up their sneakers and wearing pink, on March 23, for the Annual Race For Women’s Wellness – all in the name of breast cancer prevention.
Presented by the City of Coral Springs and Broward Health Coral Springs with proceeds benefitting the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund, this fun and entertaining event raises funds for the early detection of breast cancer for those who cannot afford mammograms.
As an ER nurse at Broward Health Coral Springs, Michelle Loberfeld knows the importance of early detection in breast cancer prevention.
After her cousin was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, Loberfeld started getting annual mammograms at the age of 35 – a little earlier than the recommended age of 40. In 2016, her annual mammogram results came back clear, but several weeks after, she felt an unusual lump on her breast.
“I went to the Women’s Center at Broward Health Coral Springs to get another mammogram,” said Loberfeld. “When I saw their faces, I knew the news would not be good.”
Follow-up tests would confirm her fears – she had stage III breast cancer. After crying for about an hour, Loberfeld went into warrior mode. She opted for a double mastectomy because, as a nurse, she had “seen these types of cancers return.”
Rohan Faria, M.D., hematologist oncologist with Broward Health Coral Springs said that making the difficult decision of opting for a double mastectomy impacted Michelle not only physically, but emotionally, as her anatomy and appearance would take on a different look.
“Michelle’s will to live and can-do attitude has made her stronger,” he said.
Following her mastectomy, Loberfeld prepared for her rounds of chemotherapy. To prepare for the journey, she cut her long hair and donated it.
“I figured it would be less shocking if it was short when it started to fall off,” said Loberfeld. “I was wrong. The day I shaved my head was very emotional. In the end, it gave me an incredible sense of empowerment, like battle scars.”
That same feeling motivated Loberfeld to participate in the Race for Women’s Wellness in March 2017. Despite a chemotherapy infusion on Wednesday, Loberfeld walked the following Saturday, gathering more than 100 people to join her.
Today, Loberfeld has been cancer-free for 18 months and recovering from the last phase of her breast reconstruction. With her treatment behind her, she is getting ready to do the Race for Women’s Wellness for the third time on March 23, 2019 at the Coral Springs Tennis Center.
“To me, this walk means hope,” Loberfeld said. “I was lucky enough to have insurance coverage for my treatment. Others are not as fortunate.”
Founded in 2003 by former Coral Springs Mayor Vincent Boccard and his wife, Terry, in honor of his sister Lisa Boccard who battled breast cancer for over two decades, Lisa Boccard is now the driving force behind the fund, making it her life’s mission to screen as many women as possible.
Since its inception, the fund has screened more than 2,000 women, of which 100 tested positive for cancer. These women are still alive today, thanks in part to the early screening made possible by the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund and the additional services they received within the Broward Health system.
Race for Women’s Wellness is the signature fundraiser for The Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund. Founded in 2006 by two Broward Health Coral Springs physicians, Dr. David Silver and Dr. Mark Shachner, it has raised $311,000 since its inception. It began as a small 5k run on the Broward Health Coral Springs hospital campus, and over the past five years, grown to include a half marathon, thanks to a partnership with the City of Coral Springs. Now the “half” and the 5k is drawing runners from 25 states and countries like Spain, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hungary and Argentina.
The event will be held Saturday, March 23, 2019. Both races are presented by the City of Coral Springs and Broward Health Coral Springs.
The half marathon starts at 6 a.m., and the 5k starts at 7:30 a.m. Runners and walkers of both the half marathon and 5K will start at the Coral Springs Tennis Center on 2575 Sportsplex Drive. From there, participants will continue on a fast, flat and paved course that winds through the city.
Tamarac residents welcome to register for either the half marathon or 5k race. Visit https://www.itzevents.com/raceforwomenswellness or for more information or to volunteer, call 954-344-3344.