BOISE — Research tells us one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. In 2011, there were almost 1,200 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Idaho. Thankfully, there are support groups.
One workout group for mother's called Stroller Strides has turned into much more than exercise. Several of the members are also fighting breast cancer or are survivors. Others have made difficult health decisions after finding out they have a very good chance of getting breast cancer.
"I mean, it's the best community for me as a mom," said Jess Westhoff, who has been a member of Stroller Strides for about five years. "I can't imagine not having it."
Westhoff, like many of the Stroller Stride moms, wears a pink shirt that says "fight like a mother." She says she has been especially thankful for the group this past year when she had dramatic preventative care.
"It was kinda scary to go into surgery and have two little ones, but knowing I had all these friends that were supporting my family, to give me the emotional support, made all the difference," Westhoff said.
She tested positive for the BRCA gene, meaning she has a predisposition for breast and ovarian cancers. Westhoff decided to get a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy to help keep the cancer from attacking her in the future.
"I just knew when I was done having kids that I wanted to do that," Westoff said.
"So I was tested and I had the BRCA gene as well," said Jessica Ripple, who has been a member of Stroller Strides for about eight years.
Ripple went through the same surgeries. She says she didn't want her kids to watch her go through the trauma she saw her own mother go through with breast cancer.
"Experiencing that with her was hard," Ripple said. "There were a lot of unknowns. I took it into my own hands and it was the best decision for me."
Ripple and Westhoff say having Stroller Strides rally around them during hard health decisions truly has been a blessing. It continues now for members who are battling breast cancer and those who can now call themselves survivors.
If you would like to learn more about Stroller Strides click here. You can also learn about a giveaway the group is doing for breast cancer survivors.