The Sixth Annual Breast Cancer Charity Ride & Music Fest is from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, with the country’s largest scooter ride. There is a $30 registration fee to participate in the police-escorted ride through downtown Orlando, Baldwin Park and Winter Park at 1 p.m. To register, visit scooters4hooters.com
Libby Maynard lost her fight against breast cancer in 2006, but this is not a sad story, even if her daughter does tear up when she tells it.
“Knowing my mother,” Robin Maynard said, “if she was sitting with us right now and I said, ‘Mom, if you die, 45 women will be saved and their children will have their mom,’ she would have chosen (death).”
Libby Maynard lived only six weeks after receiving her diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, but that was enough time for her daughter to learn the challenges that women with breast cancer face.
Stage IV, or metastatic breast cancer, is invasive breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs of the body, such as the lungs, distant lymph nodes, skin, bones, liver or brain. Treatment generally includes surgery, radiation, or both, depending on many individual factors. Chemotherapy is always recommended.
“There were a lot of insurance issues,” Maynard said about her mother. “She lost her job because of her cancer treatments, and just terrible things that had gone on.”
Watching what her mother went through was enough to help Maynard decide she wanted to help stage IV women, to advocate for them. So she started Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation.
Libby’s Legacy provides comprehensive breast health care to the underserved Central Florida community through education, mammograms, follow-up diagnostics and Hope Coaches on the journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
The services provided by the foundation evolved as Maynard learned more about the needs of the community. They include the Cancer Screening Initiative / Mammogram Access Project, which provides free mammograms and follow up breast health services to uninsured women in the Central Florida community.
“We are awareness with action,” Maynard said. “There’s no point in having awareness events if you are not going to do anything about it! What is the point of giving someone a free service if you are not going to help them with the rest of it? ‘You have something abnormal. We can’t help you now.’ That doesn’t make any sense.”
Libby’s Legacy has diagnosed 45 women and all are survivors.
“I’m 45-0, baby!” Maynard said. “I’m not easy to say no to. I have nothing to lose. You can’t fire me — I don’t get paid — and my boss is in heaven.”
Libby’s Legacy also helps stage IV breast cancer patients battling this disease by granting wishes in order to create cherished memories with loved ones through the LIVE BIG program. They assign a patient advocate and then send those stage IV patients on a week-long trip on the Alaskan cruise that Libby and Robin Maynard had planned to take, but were unfortunately denied because of the aggressive nature of Libby’s cancer.
For more information on Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation and “Ellen’s Walk with the Angels,” visit libbyslegacy.org and angelwalk.org
Funds for the Alaskan cruises are raised by Libby’s Legacy’s signature event, Scooters 4 Hooters: Sixth Annual Breast Cancer Charity Ride & Music Fest, which is March 24.
The inaugural Scooters 4 Hooters ride took place in 2007. A goal was set for $5,000, but nearly $13,000 was raised. Since then more than $300,000 has been raised to send five stage IV breast cancer patients on the Alaskan cruise memory trips with their families, and pay for more than 1,500 breast health services that have diagnosed breast cancers and saved lives.
Ellen Stephenson, a friend of Libby’s, was diagnosed in 2003 and has been through rounds and rounds of chemotherapy for the past eight years. Stephenson and her husband were the first to take the Alaska trip.
“That trip is such a powerful memory for me. It was something I never dreamed I would get to do, that I would get to experience something so awe inspiring,” Stephenson said. “It brought me in touch with the beauty of life and helped me to go beyond my disease. For once I wasn’t a woman in treatment; I wasn’t a cancer patient. I was Ellen.”
Stephenson carried Libby’s ashes with her on the cruise and spread them in a “very beautiful place” in Sitka, Alaska.
“Libby went with us,” she said.