Hundreds Kick Cancer to the Curb at the Graham Cancer Center 5K

On Sunday, Oct. 29, over 330 runners and walkers laced up their shoes at Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, Delaware, for the Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute 5K Run/Walk. Participants took to the route in a colorful array of tutus, Halloween costumes, pink race shirts and some Barbie-inspired ensembles. Even “Ken” got in on the act.

The Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, most recently chaired by Dana Nestor (far left), have raised more than $3.5 million since its inception in 2002.

“The Graham Cancer Center is a critical part of the love and excellence of ChristianaCare,” said Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, president and CEO.

“Its profoundly impactful care is recognized across the country. The center serves as a national model for multidisciplinary cancer care and is pioneering work to develop new cancer treatments.”

Nicholas Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America Endowed Medical Director, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute; President and CEO Janice Nevin, M.D., MPH; and Dawn Leonard, M.D., breast surgeon at the Graham Cancer Center.

The 5K raised in excess of $155,000. These proceeds will support the purchase of Neoprobes, a vital resource in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

“The Friends do what we can to offer help where it’s most needed,” said Dana Nestor, chair of the volunteer group, which has raised more than $3.5 million to benefit patients with cancer and their families since its inception in 2002.

“All of you are a part of it. I want you to feel good about showing up for such an amazing organization that serves so many of our friends, family and neighbors. Thank you for being here. You’re making a difference.”

Overall, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women in Delaware, as reported by the Delaware Division of Public Health, and Black women are disproportionately more affected by breast cancer than white and Hispanic women and have a higher mortality rate.

“We’re doing this because Delaware is number four in the incidence of breast cancer in the United States and number one in the incidence of triple-negative breast cancer in the United States,” said Dawn Leonard, M.D., breast surgeon at the Graham Cancer Center.

“This new equipment will create the ability for us to treat patients more accurately, more quickly and more effectively.”

“You could have been anywhere in the world today and you chose to be here,” said breast cancer survivor Donna Hickey Lynn. “You have brought with you hearts full of hope and love and compassion.”

In addition, Black women in Delaware have among the highest incidence rates in the U.S. of triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that is harder to treat and more likely to return.

“You’ve come here to do something good, to eradicate cancer.” said Delawarean Donna Hickey Lynn, who was treated for breast cancer at the Graham Cancer Center.

“They have a treasure trove of oncologists and nurses, they have a varied staff and they have volunteers. They have one mission — and that is for our healing,” she said.

Congratulations to the winners and all participants!

(See all results and times here.)

First to the finish line: Christopher Mitchell, M.D., of ChristianaCare.
Four-legged friends with their walking partner.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
This smile is a real treat!