Positive attitude of ‘In Memory’ honoree was inspiration to manyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Sugg fought cancer for more than three years with a smile on her face, inspiring her family and everyone else who came into contact with her.
“She was incredible,” her husband, Mike Sugg, told Toledo Free Press. “She fought the disease with everything she had. She never for a minute asked ‘Why me?’ or complained or was negative. From the get-go, she had this attitude of ‘This is the hand I’ve been dealt and let’s fight it’ and she immediately turned her attention to other women with breast cancer, helping them fight the fight as well. She was an amazing individual. Completely, totally just an inspiration. She was just unbelievable.”
Sugg – who lost her battle with the disease on Dec. 6, 2010, at age 31 – has been designated the “In Memory” honoree at this year’s Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure event.
The annual fundraising event designates two individuals each year: an “In Memory” honoree, celebrating the life of someone who has died, and an “In Celebration” honoree, celebrating a cancer survivor.
This year’s “In Celebration” honoree will be Pam Downour, a two-time breast cancer survivor, who said she wants to share the recognition with all other survivors.
“Surviving this disease is a feat in itself; I think everybody is deserving,” said Downour, who credits her faith, medical team, strong support system, sense of humor, ability to keep things in perspective and two personal heroes in her mother and stepdaughter — both breast cancer survivors — with helping her beat cancer. “A good positive attitude – that’s what I try to have. Once you have a disease like this, you just have to look at every day as a blessing and celebrate every day.”
Sugg said he and his family are honored by Jenny’s recognition.
“When they called me initially, there were just so many emotions,” Sugg said. “I couldn’t even really process it all at first. She fought so hard and was just a pillar of strength for all of us and to have that recognized was really awesome.”
Mike and Jenny, who met while attending Central Catholic High School, have two children: 8-year-old Jonathan and 4-year-old Samantha.
“To have their mom be recognized is a huge deal for them,” Sugg said. “It will be really awesome for them.”
Jenny was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the summer of 2007, when she was 28. The cancer then spread to several other areas, including bones and liver. The diagnosis came a year after her mother, Teresa Brickner, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After the diagnosis, the Suggs became heavily involved with Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure and other cancer support organizations.
“The coolest thing is seeing thousands and thousands of people Downtown and they’re all supporting this fight,” Sugg said. “To see the amount of support that’s down there and know you are not in this alone, that there are all these people fighting this disease, there are no words to describe. It’s just amazing and inspiring. I remember the first year we did it, when I saw all these people and thought, ‘Wow, all these people are here fighting that fight alongside us.’”
Mike, the kids, and hundreds of their friends and family members will again be participating in this year’s walk Sept. 25.
“We will continue to be at the race and it will be a huge part of our lives forever,” Sugg said. “We’re making the final push to recruit team members. We have about 400 now. The whole family comes down for the race.”
Race registration opens at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 25 near Fifth Third Field in Downtown Toledo. The survivor group photo will be at 8 a.m. followed by the survivor parade at 8:45 a.m. The competitive race will start at 9:30 a.m. followed by the noncompetitive walk at 9:45 a.m. and the fun walk at 10:15 a.m. Race results will be posed at 10:30 a.m. and medals distributed at 10:45 a.m.
New this year will be people’s choice voting at $1 per vote for favorite team T-shirt. Another new event will be a survivor sing-along of country singer and breast cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge’s “I Run for Life” immediately following the survivor parade.
For more information, visit www.komennwohio.org.