Breast cancer survivor ‘races for cure’ for 25 years

“I thought this was a movement,” Dorothy Fuller said. “That’s how I looked at it.”

Dorothy Fuller has been involved in Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure since it started in Portland. (Komen Oregon)
Dorothy Fuller has been involved in Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure since it started in Portland. (Komen Oregon)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Sunday, Portland will celebrate its 25th Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and KOIN 6 News Anchor Jennifer Hoff met one local woman who has been there for it all.

Runners prepare for the 1993 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Portland. (Komen Oregon)
Runners prepare for the 1993 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Portland. (Komen Oregon)

There were about 6,000 runners the first year. Fast forward to 2015 and the crowd doubled to about 11,000. Each year, Portland’s race always included survivor Dorothy Fuller.

“I thought this was a movement,” Fuller said. “That’s how I looked at it.”

The Portland resident just turned 68 years old. She said she never thought she’d live that long after her diagnosis.

“After having breast cancer, it’s still kind of hard for me after 25 years,” she said.

Fuller was diagnosed the same year Race for the Cure started. She endured 6 months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. During treatment, she still insisted on walking with her friend in the first event.

“We made it and my friend has walked with me every year since then,” Fuller said. “Every year she has walked with me.”

Fuller keeps all of her race day memorabilia and proudly leads programs like Worship in Pink to encourage women to get mammograms.

“I talk about it all year long, all the time to people I see, especially the younger girls because they believe they can’t get it,” she said.

Participants in Portland's 2015 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. (Komen Oregon)
Participants in Portland’s 2015 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. (Komen Oregon)

To date, Race for the Cure has given nearly $20 million for screening, treatment and education.  OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and Providence Cancer Center were awarded $11.9 million. Survival rates have also jumped 20%, and in 2010 Eugene launched its own Race for the Cure.

“It’s a big deal as I go back and look at the work from 1991 to today and what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Ann Berryman, Director of Development & Communications for the local Komen affiliate said. “It gives me such great hope for the next 25 years.”

Fuller’s sister died from breast cancer 5 years ago, but she’s confident there will be a cure.

“One day, even in my lifetime, we’re going to have a cure,” she said. “I just know it.”

For the first time, Fuller will not walk in this year’s Race for the Cure – she’s visiting her son for his birthday out of state. But she said she’s still fundraising for the event.

Race for the Cure is Sunday, September 18. You can still sign up on race day or at the race packet pick-up event.

If you already registered, you can pick up your race packets Friday and Saturday. You can find all the information by clicking here.

And if you’re racing with Team Jennifer, be sure to meet at the KOIN Booth in Race Village before the race you signed up for and the group will make its way to the start line. Jennifer is emceeing the event for a second year.

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