BOISE, Idaho — When news broke in February that the annual Susan G. Komen Boise Race for the Cure would not be returning in 2021, a mother-daughter duo, both of whom are survivors of breast cancer, decided to host their own race for the cure.
The first Susan G. Komen Boise Race for the Cure took place in 1999. Each year, the race grew in popularity and was one of the biggest annual events in the Treasure Valley.
For over 20 years, thousands of people gathered to help in the fight against breast cancer.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a drop in the number of donations, Komen announced in February there would no longer be a Race for the Cure in Boise going forward.
This was devastating news for the survivors and their families who participate every year, like Barbara Rhoades of McCall and her daughter, Leslie Scantling of Boise.
The two have a long history of breast cancer in their family and are both survivors themselves.
"I was diagnosed 22 years ago," Rhoades said. "I decided right then and there to have a double mastectomy because I asked the doctor how long would it be before I was diagnosed with cancer in the other breast, and he said probably about 5 years because I had so much cancer history in our family."
Rhoades recovered and has been healthy ever since. However, her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer about 18 years later. She was in her 40's at the time.
"Honestly, in my mind it wasn't a question of if I would be diagnosed with breast cancer, it was more a question of when," Scantling said. "I always did my annual mammogram, and it was at my annual mammogram about four and a half years ago that they found a lump in my breast. It was pretty devastating, and I know it was heartbreaking for mom."
Rhoades was devastated to see her daughter go through breast cancer surgery and treatment. Scantling had a single mastectomy and a partial hysterectomy with radiation treatment. She is now on a drug course that will last several years.
For over 20 years, The Race for the Cure in Boise has been a very special part of their lives. Every year, the two participate in the race with their family and friends.
"We get this one time to come back each year and go and celebrate, and go, 'Wow, that really happened,'" Scantling said. "Because after you survive, you get back to caring for others as wives and moms, and you don't get a lot of time to just stop and say, 'You know what? I made it.' I just want to have that one day to kind of pause and reflect and get to celebrate what I went through."
When the women found out the race was not returning to the Boise area, they were heartbroken.
"It's our annual event, it's our spring event. We couldn't not mark it. That's not fair that this was taken away, and my wheels started turning," Scantling said. "What would that take? How would you do that?"
Scantling went to work, putting together a celebration for the community on her street, Harrison Boulevard. It's one of Boise's most famous neighborhoods. Passerbys will see dozens of bright pink flamingos in front of her houses.
"We decided that it's a flamingo-themed event," Scantling said. "We were so excited to get some partnership from Franz Witte, who will be loaning us their flock, too. The event will be called Flock Cancer. It will be on Saturday, May 8. It's a walk or a stroll or a saunter. It really is just people taking a walk along Harrison Boulevard at your own pace with your family and friends."
At the end of the walk, survivors will walk through the finishing arch and ring a bell in front of Scantling's house. All survivors and their friends and family are invited, as well as those who have lost a loved one to breast cancer.
"We would love people to come out on their own. Come walk, dress in whimsical pink. You'll be seeing ladies in pink tutus and feathers and balloons, and we will have the Harrison homeowners involved," Scantling said. "All of the survivors will be identified if they want to be, and I have survivor swag."
The women are hoping this event will grow every year and replace what they lost.
"I want to keep the event going because it's something that ties us together so much more than mother and daughter," Scantling said. "We get to just hug each other and say, you know, I'm really glad you are still here."
The Flock Cancer Pink Street Stroll event starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8 on Harrison Boulevard. The survivor walk is free and open to the public until noon, and you can walk on your own schedule.
The plan is to stagger during that window for social distancing. Scantling also tells us about 25 Harrison homeowners will be on board supporting the event with cheering and decoration sections in their front yards.
The event is accepting donations, and all the money will go to the Boise YMCA Oncology Recovery Program, which was very helpful during Scantling's cancer recovery, and she wants all women to have access to it.
Boise Police will be driving around in their pink cruiser, 94.9 The river will be doing a live broadcast, the Boise Civil Air Patrol Cadets will be providing crosswalk safety, Joe2u will be selling coffee, and be sure and look for the amazing survivors in their survivor sashes.
Come through the balloon arch at Hazel and Harrison and 'ring the bell' in support of all cancer survivors, fighters, and those who have passed away.
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