Breast cancer fight a family battle for race chairwoman - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Breast cancer fight a family battle for race chairwoman

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 9:44 am

Little Aliana, age 3, states simply what her mommy’s passion is.

“She saves lives and boobies.”

Aliana’s mom, Renee McClure of Gilbert, is this year’s chairwoman for the Komen Race for the Cure, set to take place Sunday in Phoenix.

McClure herself first heard the words “breast cancer” in 1987 as a young teen after her “auntie” was diagnosed with the disease.

“There wasn’t a lot known about it at the time,” McClure, 35, recalls. “Twenty years ago medications were being were being tested. We didn’t know how to read radiology reports from mammograms. Before, it had to be a substantial lump that would get noticed. Now, we can find lumps that are smaller than peas and know it’s breast cancer.”

A few years later, McClure’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived her first battle with the disease, but died at age 45 after it returned.

“That was when I went, ‘I need to do something.’ My mom didn’t even know that much about it and she was going through it physically.”

McClure, who now lives in Gilbert, heard about the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and started volunteering. Now, her whole family is involved. Aliana goes to meetings with her. McClure’s husband is a volunteer.

And “auntie,” who has fought the disease three times, takes care of Aliana the entire weekend of the race so McClure can devote her time.

“It’s a lifetime commitment. It’s a family commitment.”

It’s also become even more personal: McClure’s mother-in-law and step-mother-in-law were both diagnosed in recent years with breast cancer. It’s so important that even with her busy life as a mom, manager at bank and co-business owner with her husband, she makes time to volunteer.

Her biggest concern is there are still people who won’t talk about the disease and won’t talk about self-examinations that can help catch it early. She wants Aliana to be comfortable with such discussions, and carry on the family message.

“Ignorant people haven’t realized this is something all families should talk about. I don’t mind my little girl going around saying I’m saving lives and boobies,” she said.

“My hope is by the time she gets to an age, that we have a cure. Maybe for all strands, maybe certain ones.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

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