Hundreds celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day at 5K run and walk

National Cancer Survivors Day is a reason to celebrate for thousands of Minnesotans and gives hope to many others still fighting cancer that they, too, will celebrate one day.

"I knew I had to be here," said Ann-Marie Burton, a one-year breast cancer survivor who took part in the Hope in Motion 5K run and walk at Veterans Park in Richfield. "I knew it was (coming up) shortly after I just rang the cancer bell. Sorry, I’m going to be emotional. This is huge for me because I survived it. It was a year ago I was diagnosed. It came out of a shock. It doesn’t run in my family. I have eight children that I’m fighting for."

About 300 people registered for the run and walk this year. Many of them are relatives or friends of people who are now cancer-free, but many runners and walkers are cancer survivors themselves.

"Everything about the day is just perfect," said Marc Thompson, a 12-year survivor of Hodgkins Lymphoma who has taken part in several of these events. "We gather for the survivor photo before (the start), and it’s one of the most powerful moments of my year. I look forward to it all the time."

Minnesota Oncology sponsors the event with proceeds going to the Angel Foundation, a nonprofit that supports adult cancer patients and their families financially and through education and emotional support. The Hope in Motion event celebrates that cancer can be beaten, but it helps a great deal if people get screened on a regular basis.

"I know a lot of people think, ‘I’m not going to get that, so I don’t need to do my colonoscopy, I don’t need to do my lung cancer screening, my mammogram, my prostate cancer screening, et cetera,’" said Dr. Paul Thurmes of Minnesota Oncology. "… But being able to catch cancer at its very earliest stages really gives people the best chance of being able to really beat this disease."