Thousands Turn Out for American Cancer Society Walk in Ocean City

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first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiMargie S. Burgess and dozens of other women wore sashes across their shoulders that were adorned with one very powerful word emblematic of their fight against breast cancer: “Survivor.”Burgess and the other survivors were showered with applause and cheers as they waded through a crowd in the thousands Sunday at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Ocean City.“It all makes you want to cry in a good way,” Burgess said of the crowd’s emotional salute. “It gives you a good feeling that you have survived.”Burgess, 75, of Atlantic City, was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014 after a lump was discovered on her right breast. She went through a series of chemotherapy and radiation sessions for her treatment. She credited her family and her faith in God for giving her the strength to pull through.Breast cancer survivor Margie S. Burgess, 75, of Atlantic City, (middle, in pink cap) was joined by family members in her support group.“My family was a terrific support system,” she said, noting that two of her daughters took family leave from their jobs to help care for her. “If it wasn’t for Jesus Christ, I never would have made it.”In addition to her “survivor” sash, Burgess was wearing a pink baseball cap for the walk. Minutes before the event began at Ninth Street, she said she felt “terrific.”Burgess and other breast cancer survivors have beaten an illness that is diagnosed in nearly 250,000 women in the United States each year and will kill more than 40,000 of them in 2016 alone. In New Jersey, about 7,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly 1,300 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.Those alarming numbers were not lost on the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people who walked in the breast cancer awareness fundraiser Sunday.Friends and co-workers of Shore Physicians Group employee Beth Beaver showed their support for her. Beaver, who is dealing with cancer, did not participate in the walk.There was a sea of pink caps, T-shirts and banners, all symbolizing breast cancer awareness and the quest for a cure. Some walkers wore clothing or carried signs that had inspirational messages, including “No one fights alone” and “Keep calm and fight on.”“There are a lot of people who have breast cancer. It affects nearly every family,” said one walker, Ann MacMurray, 60, of Seaview.MacMurray was among a group of employees at Shore Physicians Group in Somers Point who participated in the walk to support their co-worker, Beth Beaver, who has cancer.Michelle Smith, 45, of Egg Harbor Township, another one of Beaver’s co-workers, described Beaver as being incredibly upbeat, even as she deals with the disease.“She has the most positive outlook of anyone I’ve ever known,” Smith said.Jason O’Neil, 37, of Ventnor, another employee at Shore Physicians Group, was comically dressed in a pink wig and tutu to show his support for breast cancer awareness.Waves of walkers started out at Ninth Street before strolling on the Boardwalk.“People still need to be aware that it affects everyone,” O’Neill said of cancer. “We are coming out to support those people and to bring people together for this cause.”Last year, the American Cancer Society’s walk in Ocean City attracted 6,000 people and raised $300,000. Spokesman Jason Plaia estimated Sunday’s crowd at between 6,000 and 7,000. Now in its 10th year, the walk is the American Cancer Society’s biggest event in South Jersey.“This is a growing event. Our hope is to make it even bigger every year,” Plaia said.last_img

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