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Jan 31, 2013 11:07 AM by MELISSA CANONE

Local breast cancer survivor named honorary team new balance member

Lafayette, LA - Rachel Wickman has been named Honorary Team New Balance member for the Susan G. Komen Acadiana Race for the Cure®, Saturday, March 16, in Girard Park in Lafayette. Wickman was selected as an honoree for her personal perseverance against breast cancer and her dedication to raising breast cancer awareness.

"By participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Wickman and her team members across the country are an inspiration to us all," said Rob DeMartini CEO of New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc." New Balance is proud of our 23-year association with Susan G. Komen. As a company, New Balance is dedicated to promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestyles as a way to reduce the risk of breast cancer."

Rachel Wickman's story with breast cancer began when she was very young. Wickman's grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Wickman was a child. Though she didn't exactly know what breast cancer meant at the time, Wickman was aware of her grandmother in and out of the hospital and that her condition wasn't good. Wickman's grandmother lost her battle to cancer in 1990 when she was a sophomore in high school. She was devastated to lose such an influential person in her life.

Almost 20 years later, when pregnant with her second son Wickman felt a lump and told her doctor. With a one year old at home and pregnant, Wickman's doctor dismissed the lump as an enlarged milk duct. But at a routine checkup 18 months later, her lump was still there. A mammogram and ultrasound confirmed Wickman had stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones and liver. She was scared.

Wickman wanted to see her boys grow up, go to school, have dates; she wanted grandchildren one day and to grow old with her husband. A double mastectomy, hysterectomy and six months of chemo reduced her tumors, and Wickman has been able to see both of her boys begin school. She even participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Race last fall, just a year and a half after treatment. The Komen 3-Day is a 60 mile walk over three days to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

Looking back, Wickman says she always felt destined to have breast cancer even before she knew she had a genetic mutation that predisposed her to it. She felt it was just a matter of time. Because of her genetic disposition, family members have received genetic testing as well and two cousins were positive for BRCA 2 mutations, a genetic disposition to breast cancer. Her diagnosis and awareness may have helped her family members' lives as well.

Wickman has always been involved in Race for the Cure as a way to fight against the horrible disease that took her grandmother. Since her diagnosis she has become more involved with the Acadiana Affiliate and contributes to the Komen Acadiana blog and is an active participant in another blog for breast cancer survivors diagnosed with metastasis. Wickman continues to be very active in fundraising efforts by Komen Acadiana as well as American Cancer Society. She is an advocate for education, awareness and more research particularly related to breast cancer metastasis. Wickman's advice is, "You don't have to be old, have a family history, etc to have breast cancer. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. Insist on getting checked out!"

According to Linda Rose, administrator of the Breast Center of Acadiana, "Rachel faces her diagnosis, treatment and future with amazing courage, strength and fortitude. She lives life to the fullest and refuses to allow her diagnosis to limit what she does. In fact, it propels her forward!"

Wickman asks everyone to "Remember why we race: To cure this horrible disease! To make women's lives better. To support friends who have been diagnosed and remember loved ones who have lost their lives to this devastating disease that keeps coming back and keeps striking our loved ones and keeps killing daily."

Komen Acadiana invites the public to Race for the Cure, on March 16 in Girard Park, as Wickman and over 350 local survivors will remember their journey and celebrate the future. Like the other survivors in our community, Wickman is an inspiration to us all.

Komen Acadiana's vision is a world without breast cancer. Their promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all, and energizing science to find the cures.

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