October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and community members will soon be taking part in the annual walk at the park to raise money for patients and to remember and honor those who have fought long and hard against the disease.
The Eastern Sierra Breast Cancer Alliance will be holding its 10th annual walk this year at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Bishop City Park. This is the ESBCA’s largest fundraiser of the year.
The ESBCA’s primary goal is to help patients pay for the costs associated with cancer, be it for travel or simple living expenses.
“The need here is great,” said Jilline Freis, president of the ESBCA. She explained that cancer knows no boundaries; because there is not a local oncologist, local residents diagnosed with cancer must travel extensively to treat it.
The ESBCA is a not-for-profit organization with a resource center located behind the Family Health Center in Bishop. The center is staffed solely by volunteers, many of whom are nurses, healthcare professionals and social workers.
Freis said ESBCA received nine applicants for financial aid in September, a large number for the tiny resource center. She said she couldn’t be sure whether the increased numbers were a result of more people in need, or word of the ESBCA getting out and more people taking advantage of it as a result.
She said she could be sure of one thing: having cancer is expensive.
Patients must travel to Southern California or the Carson City/Reno area to see doctors or for specialized treatment. She said the cost of travel alone can be a hardship. There are also insurance co-pays and other medical expenses. Add to this the patient’s weakened state that usually leads to less work and income, and the need for financial help is clear, Freis said.
The 5K walk/run and the 10K run are a way for locals to help these patients. All of the proceeds from the run will go directly toward patients to help pay bills.
The walk is also a way for family members and friends to walk in honor of those currently fighting, or run in honor of someone who has succumbed to the disease. Runners and walkers can display the names of those they’re walking for on their event T-shirt.
Along with offering informational booths about cancers and mammograms, Gloria Phillips’ famous cotton candy and live music, this year the ESBCA will be asking runners and spectators to make a quilt square. The squares will become a large, warm quilt that patients can snuggle under during cancer treatments in the infusion center at Northern Inyo
Freis said NIH is very supportive of ESBCA, underwriting the T-shirts for the annual event and allowing the organization some work space when needed. The last chance to pre-register for $30 will be from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the front entrance of NIH.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 13 percent of all deaths.
The ESBCA resource center is open to all people with any cancer and is located at 174 Iris St., in Bishop, behind the Family Health Center on West Line Street. The center is open by appointment by calling (760) 872-3811. For more information on ESBCA, or to download a race registration form, go to www.esbca.org .