More than 60,000 people -- many breast cancer survivors -- turned out in a sea of pink to walk together Sunday in a call to find the cure, as part of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach.
Walkers hugged, cried and rejoiced during the march to support survivors in the fight against breast cancer. The Jones Beach walkers raised $3.15 million, more than any one of the walks in each of New York City's five boroughs.
The 4-mile walk along the Jones Beach boardwalk, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, was among the largest walks of about 300 held around the country Sunday, organizers said.
Among the women battling breast cancer is Stacy Brennan, 51, of Plainview, who initially was diagnosed with the condition six years ago. After beating breast cancer the first time and undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy, the mother of three was diagnosed a year ago with stage 4 breast cancer that has spread to her bones, she said.
"This walk has become a passion," said Brennan, a junior varsity cheerleading coach for John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, adding she raised $20,000 this year for the walk and had more than 250 friends, and football and cheerleading team students walking with her under the Stacy's Warriors group.
"I am doing this for everyone's children so that we won't have to do this one day," she said. "It makes me feel good."
Money raised through the walk will help the American Cancer Society provide free resources and support to newly diagnosed women, invest in research and ensure access to mammograms, officials said.
More than 232,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease. That number includes 2,475 cases and 417 deaths on Long Island, according to the cancer society.
After being diagnosed in October 2012 with stage 1 breast cancer, Susan Miller, 49, of Syosset, underwent five surgeries, including a double mastectomy, and chemotherapy to be cancer free. The patient-care coordinator volunteered in the walk's "survivor" tent, where she greeted women who have beaten cancer or are still working to suppress it.
"I've never been happier than I am today," said Miller, a mother of two who started to knit hats, joined a gym and began volunteering. "For the first time, it is about me and what I can do to feel better."
Celine Coles, 30, of Port Washington, completed the hour-and-a-half walk in memory of her mother, Marie-Francoise Coles, 55, who died last year from breast cancer.
"As a community we have to support each other," said Coles, who was accompanied by friends Barbara English, 52, of Smithtown, and William Sloan, 35, of Brooklyn, who also lost family members to the disease. "It is a fight we all have to get in. Cancer is everywhere."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly described Stacy Brennan's cancer surgery.