by Meagan Ingerson
The Daily Northwestern
Rikki Ragland decided to participate in the “Y-ME Race to Empower” to support friends and patients who suffer from breast cancer. But when she walks the 3 miles in downtown Chicago on Sunday, Ragland will also be a breast cancer survivor.
Ragland, a director in Evanston Northwestern Healthcare’s public relations department, signed up for the hospital’s Team Kellogg in April when her doctor discovered a lump in her breast. A biopsy performed after the lump was removed revealed the growth had been cancerous.
“By the time I received my (Evanston Northwestern Healthcare) T-shirt saying I was a team member, I was a survivor,” she said.
This is the first year Evanston Northwestern Healthcare has participated in the event that raises money for the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. In the race, which takes place every Mother’s Day, participants complete either a one- to three-mile walk or a five-kilometer run.
Y-ME raises funds to provide emotional support to breast cancer patients as well as to increase awareness about the disease, according to the group’s Web site.
The hospital organized the team to show support for patients and staff members, said team co-captain Amy Ferguson, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare’s senior director of public relations.
“We work with a lot of patients that have benefited from the services that are offered by Y-ME,” she said.
Team Kellogg is comprised of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare staff members and their families. So far, the team’s 45 members have raised more than $4,800, according to the team’s profile on the Y-ME Web site.
Ferguson said she became co-captain with Christine Powell, the director of the Kellogg Cancer Center, because her mother died of breast cancer seven years ago.
“Since she passed away, I have been participating with my family in this event,” Ferguson said. “It’s really the only way we know to celebrate or commemorate Mother’s Day.”
Linda Green, a nurse at the cancer center, said she joined the team to show support for her patients.
“Because there’s so many people I work with who have breast cancer, (I’m walking) to support them, and in memory of several of the patients that I’ve cared for in the past,” she said.
Ragland said being a survivor of the disease has changed her attitude toward the race.
“For me to walk with people who are now standing behind me as a patient is really overwhelming,” she said. “It’s a very interesting position to be in. These are my colleagues, they’re my friends, but they’re also my supporters.”
Reach Meagan Ingerson at [email protected]