Breast cancer survival well worth the walk

Sue Ifill of Amityville, left, a breast cancer Sue Ifill of Amityville, left, a breast cancer survivor for 14 years, made a new friend, Sue Delaney, of Selden, a breast cancer survivor for just 8 months at the Long Island 2 Day Walk to Fight Breast Cancer, held Saturday, June 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Ten-year-old Giulianna Fiore waited anxiously for her mom, a breast cancer survivor and one of about 600 participants in a 13.1-mile fundraising walk for the disease.

"She originally had breast cancer, and now she's doing it [walking] for the other people," said Giulianna, as she huddled near the finish line with family.

Saturday marked the fourth time her mother, Michele Fiore, walked in the LI2DAY Walk, a half-marathon-length trek that started and ended at Smith Point Beach in Shirley.

As of Saturday, $355,000 had been raised from this year's walk. That amount is expected to rise, because participants have until July 7 to get in all funds. The organization has raised more than $5 million in the last decade, toward scholarships, breast cancer research and programs that have assisted about 134,000 Long Islanders, according to its website.

The event was among several on Long Island this weekend, as Sunday is national Cancer Survivors Day.

"It makes me feel really happy and relieved she's OK," said Giulianna, when asked how she felt seeing her mother near the finish line. Michele Fiore has been in remission for five years.

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About 1:30 p.m., the hundreds of walkers -- which included about 65 survivors -- crossed the Smith Point Bridge, which was lined with pink and American flags. Family and friends waved and cheered for walkers they knew. Children ran up to their mothers and hugged them. The walkers also celebrated, many wearing the color pink.

Joe Ladolcetta, 62, sitting near the bridge, wore a T-shirt bearing a picture of his wife, LuAnn, who died from breast cancer in 2012. He said he came to the walk "to show support for a great cause . . . the money stays here on Long Island."

When the walk was over, Giulianna handed her mom a pink carnation and embraced her.

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Michele Fiore, 40, said she was so proud of her daughter, especially since she recently cut her brown hair and donated it to be made into a wig.

Fiore, of Lindenhurst, said the walk was amazing and empowering; but it was also a very visible reminder of her own cancer and all those the disease has affected. "It is also hard to see so many pink shirts," she said.

Two thousand cancer survivors from North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center also gathered Saturday. They were joined by family, friends and their medical teams for the eighth annual Cancer Survivors Day celebration at the Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success.

Sunday, Stony Brook University Cancer Center is scheduled to celebrate its 10th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day. More than 300 cancer survivors are expected for a parade of survivors, outdoor activities, face painting, pony rides, juggling and more, event officials said.

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