One special Sunday every October, about 40 members of the Tegan family and their friends march up Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, toward the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, in what has evolved from a simple fundraiser to a celebration of life and a venerable ritual.
“We plan our entire calendar around Strides,” said Karen Tegan Padir. “It’s a big part of our lives.”
The tradition dawned with Karen’s mother, Lorraine, who walked in Boston’s first Making Strides in 1993. Lorraine had just come through a breast cancer diagnosis and a “terrible” summer of chemotherapy. She would fight the disease for decades, and see all of her children marry and 12 grandchildren join the family, before passing away in 2012.
“We knew during that very first walk it was going to be our thing; it was empowering,” said Karen. “My mom was our sun, the center of our universe.”
Though the years, Lorraine and husband John were joined at Making Strides by their four children, Patrice, John, Karen and Sarah, their children-in-law, grandchildren, boyfriends and girlfriends, extended family, friends and employees at the company they founded. Walkers gave way to pregnant bellies, strollers and bounding children. Every year they cry on shoulders, laugh a lot and gather for a party afterward. This day has become a coveted family holiday.
With their updated team name, Troop Tegan For Lorraine, the group of Pacesetters has consistently ranked as the top Boston fundraising team, collecting more than $123,000 in 2015 alone. They rely mostly on direct asks but have also raffled items including autographed New England Patriots jerseys.
“Any amount is a meaningful contribution,” said Karen. “We support the American Cancer Society’s unique mission to fight cancer on four fronts: research, education, advocacy and patient services.”
Nine months after she lost her mom and best friend, Karen was diagnosed at 45 with atypical ductal hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ, both of which are linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer.
“If they had found it for my mother as early as they found it with me, it would have been a much different story. It troubles me, but it motivates me,” said Karen. “This is my journey. I am blessed with this big family. I am going to fight this. I’m determined not to get cancer and not to pass it on my daughters.
“There are a lot of women who fear it. The more info you have the better off you are. You cannot shy away from it. Not everyone is capable of advocating for better care for themselves. This is why we support the American Cancer Society.”
Sunday, October 02, 2016
Registration: 7:30 a.m. Rolling Start: 8-10 a.m.