Learn about the event that not only raises funds and awareness for breast cancer, but gives survivors hope as well.
STRATTON — On Dec. 26, 2012, Dena O’Shaughnesy, a young and energetic teacher from Hopkinton, Mass., was in line at Starbucks waiting to order her coffee when she got a phone call from her doctor. Her tests had come back indicating she had breast cancer.
While teaching third grade every day and taking classes for her master’s degree, chemotherapy was not a welcome addition to her busy schedule.
So she started something new – snowshoeing.
“It was something to keep myself healthy and get outside and clear my head,” she says.
When buying her first pair of snowshoes, she noticed a tag promoting the annual Romp to Stomp fundraiser through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. On Jan. 25 this year, she joined 600 other participants with 47 teams at Stratton Mountain Resort for the annual event, raising over $53,000 over a morning with 3k and 5k snowshoe loops. The annual event has raised $659,766 for the Vermont/New Hampshire affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation since starting in 2003. The national series has raised $2.5 million for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation since its start.
Making the event even more memorable for O’Shaughnesy was that tests in early January found she was cancer free at her first check-up since her operation.
That news made her participation in the event as celebratory as it was solemn.
“It’s wonderful to see everyone teaming up and doing this,” she says, admitting that “it’s emotional as well.”
Donna Gordon was also one of 40 breast cancer survivors in attendance at the Romp To Stomp event at Stratton this year. She has participated in the event for four years as well as Race for the Cure for 14 years and says the energy at these events keeps her coming back year after year.
“The first year, it was so emotional,” she says. “Going through the tents and the demonstrations they had, I became much more aware and when I found my lump, that’s what helped me.”
Ten years after attending her first Romp to Stomp event, she discovered a lump using a self-check technique she learned at prior demonstrations. She went to her doctor right away and underwent surgery to remove the stage 1 cancer. Radiation treatment followed and she’s been cancer-free for the past five years. Gordon participated this year in honor of a co-worker’s friend whose cancer is in a more advanced stage.
Patty Lewis is a seven-year survivor who has been coming to Romp to Stomp for nine years. The first time she participated, she hadn’t yet been diagnosed with cancer. The second year was just ten days after her last chemotherapy treatment, the side effects of which made the trek even more difficult.
“I wanted to just die out there on the trail,” she says, describing how nauseous and tired she felt. “But my team pulled me through it all.”
That sense of team-building, camaraderie among cancer survivors and just enjoying a day of outdoor fun is the essence of the Romp to Stomp campaigns, and part of the reason the event at Stratton has grown over the years and become an East Coast success story.