In Fond Remembrance Of Cancer Patient Deanna Held

The 3-Day Trippers participate in a walk in 2001. Both Nancy Partridge and Deanna Held were a part of the group, which walked 60 miles from Ft. Collins to Boulder, Colo. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos

I knew her name.

She sat in a green plastic lawn chair, tightly wrapped in a pink patterned blanket, watching as thousands of women walked past her house. It was over 90-degrees outside and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Her bald head reflected the sunlight, silent tears flowed from her dark eyes. In her hands a small cardboard sign simply said “Thank You.”

The year prior, Deanna Held had trained with us, the members of the “3-Day Trippers”, walking the streets of Boulder every Sunday morning, in snow, rain and blistering heat.  In 2001, my first year as a breast cancer walker, Deanna was newly diagnosed and still relatively strong and healthy.

But 2002 was her last.

In 2003, the 3-Day Trippers gathered at Mile High Stadium and held a memorial for Deanna before we started out on that year’s 60-mile walk.

Over the past 18 years I walked with survivors, swapping stories about diagnosis and treatment, hopes and fears. I learned what it’s like to watch someone fade away.

So much has changed in the world of breast cancer since then. So much is still the same.

Better treatment. Early detection and effective treatment have resulted in a 39 percent decline in breast cancer mortality (deaths) in the U.S. between 1989-2015.

More hope. In 1980, the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was about 74 percent. Today, it’s 99 percent. Today, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancers survivors in the U.S.

More research. The federal government now devotes more than $750 million each year to breast cancer research, treatment and prevention, compared to $30 million in 1982.

The National Cancer Institute funds breast cancer research at $2,596 per new case and $13,452 relative to each death. The U.S. Department of Defense funds breast cancer research at about $150 million per year. Susan G. Komen has funded more than $956 million in research and provided more than $2.1 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs.  The Avon 39.3-mile Walk for Breast Cancer raised $646 million for research, education, support services and treatment.

In 2016, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen and 27 other organizations formed an alliance to jointly fund research on metastatic breast cancer. This is crucial because an estimated 90 percent of deaths due to breast cancer are a consequence of metastatic disease, whether the cancer was metastatic at diagnosis or a metastatic recurrence that developed later.

Susan G. Komen has a goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. If successful, this would decrease deaths to 20,000 from the more than 40,920 women and more than 480 men in the U.S. expected to die from breast cancer this year.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the people and businesses in the community who are helping support these efforts – the Los Alamos Daily Post, Atomic City Quilts for hosting the quilt raffle (there’s still time to get raffle tickets, the drawing is Saturday July 28), Rose Chocolatier for the upcoming Cupcakes for Cancer, Los Alamos Council on Cancer for their support, and many donors – my mom Ann Partridge, Paul Bennett, Ruth Tatter, Dennis Kennedy, Jay Florey, Scott Robinson (Gateway Mortgage), Bruce Norman (Plateau Properties), Lee Bernstein (SMSI), Lori Dauelsberg, Lisa Farrell, Jane Sherwood, the individuals who have purchased quilt raffle tickets, and all those who plan to donate in the next few months. You are making a big difference.

About the author: Nancy Partridge is a native of Los Alamos. She learned to walk about a year after being born at Los Alamos Medical Center.

If you are interested in donating to, or joining Team Nancy on either fundraising walk go to: (Susan G Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Seattle Sept. 14 – 17); or (Avon & American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Santa Fe on Oct. 6.

You can also purchase a $25 raffle ticket at Atomic City Quilts/Warm Hearts Yarn for a pink handmade quilt. The drawing is Saturday.

The 3-Day Trippers hold a memorial for Deanna Held in 2003 at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Courtesy photo

Deanna Held. Courtesy photo