PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Mother’s Day tradition is getting a makeover. There will be no more “Race for the Cure.” This year Susan G. Komen Philadelphia is raising money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer with a walk! The event is expected to be more intimate, more powerful, “More than Pink.”
When you meet Melissa Landay, you just know she’s a woman on a mission.
“I like to get things done,” Landay said.
But one day, she was stopped in her tracks.
“In September 2015, I was just doing my thing and getting undressed and I found a lump. I wasn’t doing a self-exam, it just happened,” Landay said.
It wasn’t long before she knew it was cancer. But in typical fashion, Landay just kept moving forward.
“The day I got the diagnosis, I was in the office when I got the call, and I didn’t want to call my husband on the phone, so I drove up to his office and the first thing I said to him, ‘We will be fine. This is a chapter in our lives, and we will be fine. This will not define me,'” Landay said.
It wasn’t so easy telling her sons.
“My dream is that no one will have to tell their boys that they have cancer. Telling mom was hard, but telling my boys, they don’t understand. I wish that nobody had to tell their children that they had cancer,” Landay said.
But she did – and quickly learned – she needed support.
Landay’s sister-in-law was diagnosed six weeks earlier and had just gone through surgery.
“When I went to get my lab results back she was at hospital getting follow-up treatment, so she showed up, my brother came with me and she came with me,” Landay said.
It was a family affair. Landay says she was lucky — lucky to have that support and lucky overall.
“I was very fortunate. In one lymph node. I had a double mastectomy, four rounds of chemo, no radiation, and touch wood, I healed very, very quickly,” Landay said. “I had good health insurance, I had family around me to support me, and I had an employer who supported me as well and I realized I had to do something to give back.”
She felt the calling and got a phone call from a friend asking for help with Komen’s Pink Tie Ball.
“Little did I know how much it would shape my life,” Landay said.
Landay said yes – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I don’t necessarily believe that God gave me cancer for a reason, but I felt like if I had it, I had to turn it into a positive,” Landay said. “And that was to find out ways to help people.”
Through her journey with Komen, she learned that breast cancer risk is high for African-Americans, and Ashkenazi Jews like herself. Even though Komen is making tremendous progress to ensure that screening and treatment is readily available to people in every community, disparities still exist
“The one thing that I say that is so powerful is that where you live should not determine whether you live,” Landay said. “We’ve gotta do more research and we gotta provide more support for those minority communities so that they can have the same outcome I have, it’s not fair.”
And so it is her mission as the chairperson of Philadelphia’s first Susan G. Komen “More than Pink” walk to help raise as much money as possible so Komen can continue to offer free mammograms, treatment and education for everyone who needs it.
“I tell people it’s a sorority, the biggest sorority in the world — nobody wants to join, but once you’re in, you’re in for life,” Landay said.
The Komen Philadelphia “More than Pink Walk” is, as always, on Mother’s Day morning. It’s $35 to register. You can click here to register. If you use the promo code “CBS3,” you’ll get $5 off.
You can also register in person, the morning of the walk. The CBS3 Eyewitness News team will be there with you. Our live coverage is from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Mother’s Day morning.
Opening ceremonies begin at 7:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 8:30 a.m.