LYNN — Theresa Stultz was 55 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It turned her life upside down. Yet, as a breast cancer survivor, the Lynn native considers herself “blessed” and she’s been committed ever since to raising funds to benefit cancer research.
“I’m very blessed. I got the very best medical care at Mass. General (Hospital),” she said.
On Sept. 30, Stultz and her team,“Terrie’s Angels,” will participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5-mile walk for the 16th year. The Angels have raised some $160,000 during that time.
“One of my daughters heard about Making Strides on the radio or TV,” recalled Stultz, who also survived uterine cancer 10 years ago and was a caregiver for her mother, who had breast cancer. She is now supporting Darleen Shedden, a former co-worker at Equitable Bank and dear friend in New Hampshire, who is battling kidney cancer. “It sounded like something I wanted to do. That was 15 years ago, and about 10 or 12 of us, including Darleen, walked and raised some money. It was life-affirming, seeing so many women thinking positively despite wearing scarves and kerchiefs (to cover bald heads, caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments).
“We’ve been doing it every year ever since. I never want to have my daughters or granddaughters have to fight cancer.”
Stultz’s husband, Charlie, said, “Everyone knows someone who’s been affected by cancer. Twenty years ago, you didn’t have a chance. But now, thanks to research, that’s no longer true. That’s why we, and many of our family and friends, do this every year.”
The first couple of years, Stultz and her Angels took the T into Boston, then walked from Government Center to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, where Making Strides starts and ends. “We certainly walked a lot more than the five miles,” said Charlie, then laughed. “The second year, it rained. We all had a great time walking in the rain.”
The subway journey eventually changed to a bus ride into Boston. One year, two buses departed from Lynn, filled with more than 60 Angels.
The Stultzes’ granddaughter Madison Dulong, a Lynn Classical High senior who is active in the school’s drama club, has been “walking” in the Making Strides event since before she could even walk, being pushed in a carriage by mom or dad.
This year, Madison set up a Facebook page where folks can either donate to “Terrie’s Angels” or register to join the team (http://main.acsevents.org/goto/terriesangels). “In two weeks, we’ve raised $345,” she said. “I told Nanny I’d like to take the fundraising part over. About 20 of my friends will walk with me. Once school starts, I think I’ll get more to sign up.” The goal is to raise $5,000.
“I don’t usually walk for fun,” added Madison, “but I always do this walk. And I’d like to try to get more people my own age to be involved.” Madison’s younger sister, Sydney, 12, has also “walked” every year since she was an infant.
Giant yard sales, golf tournaments at the former Kelly Greens in Nahant, sales from “Breast Friends” calendars and numerous other events have helped raise money. On Oct. 5, a “Wine, Dine & Gamble” bus trip to Mohegan Sun will be held, with proceeds benefiting the local American Cancer Society. “There are only two seats left,” said Stultz, 71, with a wide smile.
“I’m very proud of my teammates,” she added. “Every time I see them I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘Oh no, what is she going to ask us to do now?’
“This is not about me. It’s about all people — men can get breast cancer too — and I, we, do it for the next generation, so a cure can be found to end cancer for good.”
Stultz retrieved a 2007 copy of The Item that featured a photograph of her Angels. “Two of the women in this picture beat cancer and are now in their 90s. That’s why we do Making Strides every year.”
The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks raise awareness and funds to save lives from breast cancer. The noncompetitive 3- to 5-mile walk brings people together to make a difference for everyone who has been touched by breast cancer. The events raise money to fund innovative research, provide free information and support, and to help people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it’s most treatable. To join Terrie’s Angels or to make a donation, go to: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/terriesangels