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Walk for cancer patient draws crowd in Apollo

| Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 9:28 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Participants cross the Apollo Bridge during a walk to raise money for breast cancer research started by Christine Martin on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Participants cross the Apollo Bridge during a walk to raise money for breast cancer research started by Christine Martin on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
The Apollo-Ridge High school cheerleaders lead participants of a walk to raise money for breast cancer research past the Apollo Plaza towards the bridge on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Pam Davis had both of her breasts removed in April, and considers herself fortunate.

The double mastectomy was performed just a month after Davis, 52, was diagnosed with cancer.

“I was very lucky. I didn't have to have chemotherapy or radiation,” the East Vandergrift resident said.

On Saturday, sporting a T-shirt proclaiming “Yes, they're fake,” and with a streak of pink in her hair, Davis was among about 75 people taking part in a breast cancer awareness walk held in her honor.

The first-time walk was put together by Christine Martin, whom Davis has known since Martin opened her business, The Body Fix, in Apollo in 1999.

Martin, of Kiski Township, reopened her exercise and day spa about six months ago. It had been closed for a year.

“She just called me one day and said she was going to do it,” Davis said. “I was very surprised. I thought it was wonderful of her to do.

“I'm not usually a person to be standing out. It's a little overwhelming.”

The five-mile walk started from Apollo Hose Company No. 2 hall, after it grew too large to begin at Martin's studio. There, participants fueled up on doughnuts and bagels before stretching and heading out of the fire hall to “Eye of the Tiger.” The Apollo-Ridge cheerleaders were on hand to boost their spirits.

The walkers made their way through Apollo Plaza and across the Leonard C. Miller Bridge, which were adorned with pink balloons.

Their route was to take them to East Vandergrift and Vandergrift before returning to Apollo. Martin was hoping to raise at least $3,000, with $500 going to Davis and the rest to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Cancer has hit Martin's family. An aunt died from lung cancer two years ago. On Friday, her father, Jack Whitlinger, was diagnosed with throat cancer. “This town has been hit hard with it,” said Martin's sister, Ellen Gamble of North Apollo. “There's been so many people in this town with cancer, so many affected.”

Tracy Guthrie of Apollo walked with a list of six names on her back; in honor of one, who is now fighting cancer, and in memory of five others who have died.

“Cancer hits so close to home,” she said, with tears quickly coming. “It's a wonderful community effort, a special way to remember and honor those who have battled cancer.”

Martin said she plans for the walk to become an annual event, with next year's taking place during breast cancer awareness month, October.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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