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More than 600 servicemembers and civilian contractors begin the five-kilometer Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 4. The event was held to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and to help end breast cancer throughout the world.

Photo by Cpl. Mark Garcia

Nearly 600 deployed personnel strive to help find cure for breast cancer

6 Nov 2012 | Cpl. Mark Garcia

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Participants in the Susan G. Komen five-kilometer Race for the Cure, gathered to do their part in the fight against breast cancer, Nov. 4.

Approximately 600 servicemembers and civilian contractors came together to run or walk the 5K in an effort to raise money for people directly affected by breast cancer and the research for a cure.

“I contacted the Susan G. Komen foundation in San Diego back in June,” said Gunnery Sgt. Allan Anderson, the Camp Leatherneck provost sergeant and race coordinator, from Lewiston, Maine. “I wanted to do something to make a difference, and they were excited to help us out and coordinate this race out here. Just like most people, breast cancer has affected my family as well, but more so, I just wanted to do something that would make a difference even though we’re out here and busy. I figured there was something I could do, so I figured we’d start this kind of run out here. We opened it up to the entire base and tried to get as much support as we could. We had nearly 600 people attend and raised just under $19,000.”

The Susan G. Komen foundation was established in 1982 in an effort to end breast cancer throughout the world. Throughout the years, it has invested nearly $2 billion to fulfilling that promise.

“I think it was great. It was way more than I would have expected or hoped for,” Anderson said. “I’m proud of our small team that put together a lot of effort, and a lot of people came out and showed their support. I think everybody needs to do his or her small part whatever that may be. Whatever little we can do, then each of our little efforts will turn into something much greater.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Carol Cuffee was diagnosed with breast cancer during 2002 and participated in the event Sunday.

“I started participating in these events in the late ‘80s early ‘90s and I never thought I would have cancer. But that’s the thing when you get involved with these organizations, you never know when its going to knock on your door,” said Cuffee, an operational administration support assistant with Naval Criminal Investigative Service, from Brunswick, Ga. “It was a beautiful event with so many people. It was very good to see so many people giving up their time for this cause. Cancer not only affects the patient, but it affects their family members and friends. Cancer doesn’t have an age group it targets. Each step you take is one step toward finding a cure, and that’s what it’s all about. When I fought cancer in 2002, the treatments were much better than what they had back in the ‘70s or the ‘80s because of events like this, which raise money for research.”

Anderson along with Staff Sgt. Natalie Calderon and Sgt. Irma Rosales coordinated and organized the event.

“I try to participate in the runs back in the states. We didn’t have that over here, so I’m glad I got to do something while I’m here,” said Calderon, a criminal investigator with the Provost Marshals Office here, from Burke, Va. “I’ve met a lot of people that have gotten breast cancer at a young age. I’ve seen a lot of people diagnosed with it. I think having Carol Cuffee out there today kind of brings it home for people who haven’t experienced cancer in their family. I felt like it was very successful, and I’m very happy I got to participate in it.”

Rosales, watch commander with PMO, from Downey, Calif., has been affected by breast cancer in her family and participated in the event.

“I just recently had an aunt who finished her radiation therapy for breast cancer, and she’s my motivation for doing the race,” Rosales said. “It was Gunnery Sgt. Anderson’s idea. He got the idea from doing a race just like it through the same foundation a few months earlier. Staff Sgt. Calderon and myself have personal reasons for assisting. We both have family members who either went through breast cancer or are unfortunately deceased because of it. So once we get back stateside, I’ll continue to participate in events like this. We have some awesome contacts now because of this event, and we definitely know where to go and how to assist them in the future.”