PORTSMOUTH — Light the Bridge for MBC on Friday night brought together women, men and families whose lives have been touched in some way by metastatic breast cancer.
Friday was metastatic breast cancer awareness day, and in a special tribute, the Memorial Bridge was lit in green, pink and teal, the three colors representing the awareness ribbon for a disease which is often devastating. The bridge remained lit in the colors until sunrise.
Prescott Park drew hundreds who donned tri-color glow necklaces, and created luminary bags in honor of a loved one. Each bag was lit by an LED tea light, and weighted down with a rock, painted pink, teal or green.
Laura Inahara is one of the women continuing the fight for Moore Fight Moore Strong, in memory of Jessica Noonan-Moore, a much loved Rochester woman who died this past year of the devastating disease. Metastatic breast cancer means that the cancer, which originated in the breast, has spread to other organs in the body. It is a stage IV cancer and the outcomes are often not good.
“Since last night, we have posted a fact about MBC on our Facebook page every single hour,” said Inahara. “We usually post one fact a day but wanted to ramp up awareness for today.”
Inahara said 113 women a day, every day die from MBC. She said raising awareness is crucial because the disease receives only two percent of the money raised for breast cancer research.
“Thirty percent of women treated successfully for breast cancer will have recurrences that become MBC,” said Inahara. “We want to see 30 percent of the money raised going for MBC research. There is often a misconception that breast cancer can be cured and it is not true. It can always return, in anyone.
This bridge lighting is dedicated to all lives lost to breast cancer, those currently battling and all their loved ones. That is what Jessica would want.”
Cards were being handed out, with a quote from Jess’s blog that she kept before she died.
“I encourage others to advocate, advocate, advocate! If you are living with MBC be your own voice, seek out all your options; find an oncologist you love, after all they are your lifeline. Research and ask questions. Communication is key, do not be afraid to ask your doctor a million questions, or send them a study you read about, we are our own advocates. Raise awareness and educate others as much as possible, the more we talk about it the more people understand. MBC needs more attention and we can all bring attention to it.” ~Jessica Moore~
Of the hundreds who came to take part on Friday, many had connections to Jess. Using a stone bench as a table, a group of little girls busily decorated their luminary bags.
Abigail Brown, 7, Allie Beck, 8, Maggie Beck, 7, Paige Stuart, 4, and Norah Stuart, 6, were all Jess Noonan-Moore’s nieces. They were all making bags decorated in the three colors, with messages of love, with notes saying how much they missed her.
“She loved all of us,” said Allie.
“We all loved Aunty Jess,” said Norah. “She was really kind and if I had to choose a person I would trust, it would be her.”
Others had their own reasons for attending.
Lauri Bristow of Corpus Christi, Texas, read an article in the Portsmouth Herald last Sunday about metastatic breast cancer, and the Memorial Bridge event. She is here visiting her parents, Arthur and Dorothy Hill of Rye, following the completion of her treatment for breast cancer.
“I wanted to come,” said Bristow. “I was diagnosed last September with stage III breast cancer. I did six months of chemotherapy and had a bi-lateral mastectomy in February. I did another six weeks of radiation therapy. I am on a maintenance medication now. My hair is starting to grow back and right now I feel pretty good. I strongly believe in the need for more awareness of MBC so I love this event.”
Cindy and Tom Ford of Barrington are a nurse and a surgical technician who did a lot of reconstructive surgery on breast cancer patients at Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospital.
“We did this day after day,” said Tom Ford. “We saw the devastating effects on women, some very young.”
The Fords also came to support their friend Amanda Bugbee of Somersworth. She lost her mom 28-years ago, and felt coming and helping to raise awareness was something she needed to do.
“I knew Jess and her husband Matt,” said Bugbee. “I watched her fight an amazing fight. She was so positive, so wonderful and spreading awareness became her strongest goal. I came for her, too. I wouldn’t have missed it.”
For more information on Moore Fight Moore Strong, go to: www.MooreFightMooreStrong.com