Pajama Run raises cancer awareness in south Charlotte
More than 200 people rolled out of bed, laced up their tennis shoes and hit the pavement Saturday, Nov. 5 – some in bunny-footed pajamas, others in hot-pink lingerie.
The area’s inaugural Pajama Run kicked off early Saturday morning at the Promenade on Providence. And though the theme of the running outfits was somewhat whimsical, the cause was not.
People on the coast, near Charleston, S.C., are likely more familiar with the run. It began there in 2008, when Charleston resident Todd Trevillian wanted to do something in honor of his mother-in-law after she died of colon cancer.
“To me, it was just eye opening to see… one day you go to the doctor and you only have months to live,” Trevillian said of his mother-in-law’s battle with cancer.
With few events aimed at awareness of cancers “below the waist,” Trevillian wanted to create a fundraiser that was both fun and informative. And after a few successful runs back home, he decided to take his show on the road.
First stop, Charlotte.
“We decided (bringing the run here) would be a great way of branching out,” Trevillian said.
Saturday’s event focused in part on ovarian cancer. Janet Rich and Wanda Shearin, two survivors of the disease, were particularly touched by the event’s turnout and were excited to see an event in Charlotte draw attention to a disease that threatened each of their lives.
Both women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, and each has been cancer-free for three years. That’s not where the similarities end. Both women learned of their cancer after a string of doctor visits for a variety of abnormal health issues, unaware of the different symptoms for ovarian cancer.
Neither woman thought the symptoms she was having would lead to a cancer diagnosis. Now, they push the importance of early detection for saving women’s lives.
“We hope ovarian cancer (awareness) can be as big as pink (breast cancer awareness) one day,” Shearin said. “That is why we need to speak out about it and get these vague symptoms out.”
Dr. Robert Higgins of the Levine Cancer Institute also stressed the importance of early detection in cancers below the waist – particularly ovarian cancer.
“Women basically don’t have control over whether or not they get” ovarian cancer, Higgins said.
Higgins, who participated in the run Saturday, said most women don’t realize they have ovarian cancer due to common symptoms like abdominal bloating and feeling full after only a few bites of a meal. By the time they realize something’s wrong, the disease already may have progressed to an advanced stage.
“We are making progress compared to 30 years ago, but (detection) it is still an issue,” Higgins said. The run is vital to raising awareness and funds for research, he said.
Rich and Shearin share Higgins’ devotion for the cause.
“The most important thing is to get the symptoms out there and to raise money for a cure,” Shearin said.