When faced with a difficult journey, Jess Williby leaned on family and friends to help her through it. And they were all by her side again Saturday morning as the team celebrated the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event and the end of Williby’s cancer treatments.
Williby was diagnosed last summer and completed her treatments last month. She was surrounded by family members every day of her treatments, and said celebrating with them at the Komen event was a fitting way to end that part of her journey.
“I couldn’t have gotten through it without them,” Williby said. “I’m not really finished with my journey, but it’s nice to get to the end of treatment and then celebrate it with all of my family that have been there for me.”
The Hays family and their supporters formed “Team Jess” for the Hays Komen race, which ended up being the largest team competing in the event and the most successful fundraisers so far. That distinction earned Williby a hot pink superhero cape during Saturday’s ceremony, which followed a 5K race.
Fundraising from the local event will remain open for one month. Proceeds help benefit local programs such as the HaysMed Breast Care Center, and 25 percent of all proceeds help fund national research for a breast cancer cure, said Jeremy Mock, executive director of Susan G. Komen Kansas.
“It is extremely important that we fund research that is going to help make a difference,” Mock said. “I can’t wait for the day when I stand up here and I say breast cancer is no more. We have treatment, we have a cure, if you will. But we do not have to worry about losing people anymore to breast cancer. That’s what Komen is about.”
Komen Kansas is based in Wichita and covers and supports 95 counties throughout the state. The Hays race started six years ago, and to date, approximately $300,000 has been donated to HaysMed’s Breast Care Center.
Those funds have made a significant difference for the clinic, which treats both malignant and benign breast concerns. The proceeds can be used to help purchase much-needed educational materials and also fund a nurse navigator, who helps patients arrange all of their appointments and guides them through the treatment process, said Lisa Dinkel, director of the Breast Care Center.
“It is really about doing what we can to provide compassionate care and help the patients get through this struggle,” Dinkel said.