SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) - Sunday was the 20th anniversary for the Rays of Hope walk, and 4th annual Run Towards A Cure of breast cancer.
22News spoke with cancer survivors who were there, who shared with us how they and their families have been fighting cancer after they were diagnosed.
"2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage one. I have kids so my children were running through my head," said Debra Stasiowski.
Debra Stasiowksi of Wilbraham was 42 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but says she made it through the fight with support from family, friends and cancer awareness and research. Considered to be one of the most successful fund raisers for breast cancer research in western Massachusetts, Rays of Hope started out in 1994 with 500 participants.
Over 25,000 people participated in this year’s 20th anniversary Rays of Hope a walk and run towards the cure of breast cancer. And well over 550 of those people are cancer survivors themselves.
Janet Rodriguez survived cancer after diagnosed in 2009.
"I was diagnosed again last year in April again. I'm just fighting it you know. Fighting the good fight,” said Rodriguez.
Tara Talbot-Biram of Springfield is 30-years-old and found out she had cancer in January. She just finished her first round of treatments, and says her worries turned to her family after being diagnosed as well.
"It's pretty shocking. I was kind of shocked. Just a lot of emotions you know. Just was worried about my kids mainly. That's all I was thinking about. What would happen in the future,” said Talbot-Biram.
Most survivors agree that having a strong support system is what gets them through the fight. The Rodriguez family came from near and far to support their mother, aunt, and grandmother in the walk around Forest Park.
"Everyone gets together supporting her united. You know we help in every which way and we are a very close family, because you've got people from Jersey, the Bronx, Brooklyn all together on a special day like this to help my beautiful wife," said Giovanni Rodriguez.
"Thank you my family for the support, my friends, and God bless you,” said Edovicci Rodriguez.
22News is pleased to report Rays of Hope raised $750,000 on Sunday. All the money remains local and goes towards efforts in research, treatment, and educational outreach programs about cancer.