HUNT VALLEY, Md. - The team tailgate lot at the 21st annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is an emotionally confusing place.
Passersby will find a mix of old and new runners and walkers celebrating, supporting or mourning those afflicted with breast cancer. It's rare to see tears of joy and tears of sadness streaming in the same place.
Before sunrise, the Stoll Sisters were getting a lift to the run for breast cancer support and research in a fitting pink limousine. The sisters, Lisa Jester and Michelle Caudill, discovered last year within one month of each other that they had breast cancer. They have since undergone close to a dozen surgeries.
The harrowing "journey" as the sisters described it is nearing an end.
"The biggest surgery is going to be the reconstruction and putting us all back together," Caudill said.
Jester, 45, said she used to have "poker straight" hair before the chemotherapy. She seemed bashful taking off her warm cap Sunday for a photo, showing signs of thickening curls underneath.
"It's very emotional and very humbling to see so many people come out to support a cause. I think breast cancer touches just about everyone there is," Jester said.
Thousands of runners and walkers, clad in the latest Think Pink fashion, would prove her right half an hour later as the sun came up over Hunt Valley.
Lucy Lotz, of Eldersburg, has attended the Race for the Cure for over a decade. The last nine years were dedicated to her daughter Stephanie Wasson, who died from breast cancer in Oct. 2004. Komen Maryland named an award after Lotz's daughter for being the highest fund-raising individual.
"She was always so positive," Lotz said, remembering her daughter fondly. Wasson left behind her two young boys, ages 5 and 3. "She just fought and fought as hard as she could, for of course, her husband and her boys."
Wasson died 10 days after the 2004 Race for the Cure, which she attended as a spectator.
Devon Conklin, 30, is one of the women who ran in the 5k Sunday that is currently fighting stage one breast cancer. She was diagnosed in July.
"I found it on my own," she said, reinforcing the need for young women like herself to self examine. She has five more rounds and a good prognosis ahead of her. "I feel great. I'm really healthy. And I'm grateful for that."
Few understand gratitude better than Gloria Haskett, 45, of Baltimore. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had no health coverage to speak of. Were it not for the Baltimore City Cancer Program, which is funded by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, she may not be here.
"They put me in touch with different people. And it became really, really huge. They paid for me to be standing here right now," she said, fighting back tears. "I always do this."
Latoya Shaver, of Rosedale, refused to cry Sunday for her mother who succumbed to breast cancer at the tail-end of 2012. "Every day was a celebration," Shaver said. She described her mother's adoration of life and how each day was a blessing.
"People in her neighborhood didn't even know she had breast cancer," Shaver said. "She kept fighting, kept going right to the end."
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