Pink Out Color Run raises breast cancer awareness, support for patients, research
October 21, 2023, 3:02 PM HST
Hearing the “C” word is hard. Serina Naboa of Hilo knows all too well.
She was diagnosed in 2019 with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of the disease that accounts for just 1% to 5% of all breast cancers. Naboa went through eight rounds of chemotherapy, had a hysterectomy and double mastectomy and was put into medical menopause, stripping her body of nearly all its estrogen.
The now 43-year-old mother of eight children, who range in age from 1 to 24 years old, was cancer free for three years after, but in May 2022 she heard the “C” word again when she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, which spread to her bones, neck and the lymph nodes in her neck.
While the cancer is treatable, there is no cure. Fortunately, through regular chemotherapy once every three weeks and clinical trials, she has just one lesion each on her spine and hip remaining.
“I got kids, so I gotta fight,” she said Saturday morning during the 2023 Pink Out Color Run at Mo‘oheau Bandstand and Hilo Bayfront Trails in Hilo on the Big Island. “I just continue to fight for a cure.”
Stage 4 is not the end — there’s still hope — and with the help of the American Cancer Society, its supporters and the community, she’s sure there will one day be a cure so nobody will ever again suffer from the disease.
“This is why we do this every year,” said Pink Out Color Run co-organizer and KBIG-FM Program and Promotions Director Jill Bugado.
The event, a partnership between the American Cancer Society and KBIG, raises awareness about breast cancer and funds for breast cancer research and patient programs. including several that help Big Island patients.
Those include free stays at Hope Lodge on O‘ahu and help with airfare and ground transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and the airport while they are there.
The funds also support a 24/7 helpline (1-800-227-2345) to provide resources for patients navigating their cancer journey and the peer-to-peer Reach to Recovery program that pairs breast cancer survivors with someone recently diagnosed or going through treatment to help them cope with their diagnosis.
More than 130 community members, including breast cancer survivors and thrivers, painted Bayfront pink in support of the cause Saturday morning during the 5K fun run/walk.
The accompanying festival featured informational booths from health partners Hawai’i Medical Service Association, Hawai’i Radiologic-Women’s Imaging and Child and Family Services as well as food vendors and other activities such as a photo booth, live entertainment, Zumba and the ever popular Beautiful Bra contest.
Nearly $6,800 had been raised by Oct. 18 through the event, which raised more than $11,000 last year. Since it started in 2018, not including this year, the Pink Out Color Run has contributed $40,528 to the fight against breast cancer and support for patients.
The event also provides an opportunity to remember those who lost their fight with the disease.
“We all know someone impacted by breast cancer,” said co-organizer American Cancer Society Hawai’i/Guam Area Associate Director Sarah Luchenbill. “Coming together and walking for those we love and to bring awareness to the disease gives us all an opportunity to make a difference.”
Breast cancer awareness is important; in Hawai‘i, it is the most diagnosed cancer. Just this year alone, an estimated 1,480 cases will be diagnosed. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of survival.
Bugado said raising awareness is also crucial in providing education and support, reducing stigma, funding research and empowering individuals to take control of their health.
“Through my years of participation, I have truly been amazed at the strength and resilience of these breast cancer warriors,” she said. “Their positive outlook in the face of adversity is truly inspiring and uplifting to witness.”
Bugado said the community’s continued support of the Pink Out Color Run is a clear reflection of its passion and commitment to support those whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer. The level of participation gives her a sense of hope and gratitude.
“Facing breast cancer is scary,” Luchenbill said. “The event provides survivors and thrivers a chance to escape for the day, feel the pink aloha from the community and enjoy with their friends and family. … Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the outpouring of love from the community!”
Naboa, who was the featured speaker during the program prior to the run’s kickoff, said the fight can get discouraging at times when treatments fail and chemotherapy takes its toll, but she is far from giving up. With advancements in technology, she knows she’ll be here a long time.
The support she receives from friends and family along with her extended family of the American Cancer Society and her community is unbelievable and makes the fight easier.
She said the Pink Out Color Run brings the community together to not only support breast cancer patients but to better understand what they go through. That’s one of the main reasons she tells her story.
“To help inspire and give others hope, that’s what I wanna do,” Naboa said.