Friends keep in touch through Facebook

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:53

Denise Baker Braun and a group of friends raised more than $5,000 to fight breast cancer as participants in the upcoming three-day walk in Tampa, Fla. Braun raised more than $2,500 herself; she teamed up with three other members of the Vernon High class of 1989 — Stacey Bray, Dyan Huey Thompson and Karin McQueen, all in an effort to keep the pink ribbon — the symbol of the fight to find a cure for breast cancer — firmly knotted. Braun had good reason to engage in this fight. She is a breast cancer survivor. “My doctor felt the lump and told me she wanted an ultrasound done to see what it was. She knew my family history and followed my health care closely. I had an ultrasound done a few days later. I knew as soon as the technician started looking around that it was a cancerous lump,” Braun said. Because she had a family history of cancer, Braun wanted to arm herself with information. “Knowledge is power and the more I knew about this disease...the more power I had in how I went about my treatment.” With two children and another on the way, she began her struggle. Braun had a biopsy that proved her lump was malignant. She then had a double mastectomy, several reconstructive surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy, 12 weeks of radiation therapy and a total hysterectomy. Braun swung at the punches thrown her way and within three years, as of May 2007, she had defeated her opponent. Joining forces That’s one reason she worked so hard to raise funds for the October walk she will undertake from Oct. 30 through Nov. 1. And a group of her friends, who’d been keeping in touch through Facebook, joined with their friend. Facebook has become an online pulse of the heart of communication. Braun and her friends, all former Vernon High classmates, had been sharing aspects of their lives and chatting about their common interest in the TV show “The Biggest Loser,’ when Braun and Karin McQueen asked the others to ‘do the walk with them,” said Stacey Bray. “What started out as ‘catching up with old friends’ has really turned into sharing one of the most inspirational, grueling and truly life changing events together,” she said. With breast cancer affecting one out of every eight American women, these friends knew they wanted to take positive steps toward working for a cure. Braun and her friends Stacey Bray, Dyan Huey Thompson, Karin McQueen and other Vernon alumni have formed the Jersey Girls team, participating in the Breast Cancer three-day 60-mile walk that raises millions of dollars for cancer research and patient support programs. “My personal goal for this walk is not only to raise the money for breast cancer research and support my friend Denise,” McQueen said, “but to show my three children that it only takes one person to make a difference. I want them to see me working on my fundraising and training, and know that their mother is striving to change someone’s life.” The project has motivated the friends and provides inspiration for them and their families. Thompson said she hopes her efforts will help find a way to prevent breast cancer. “I never want my daughter to ever worry about breast cancer.”