A Mother’s Love: Selfless Survivor Spends Holiday ‘Racing’ for a Cure

By: Vicki Hurley-Schubert

Mother’s Day means something different to breast cancer survivor Karen Gordon.

For Gordon, the holiday still revolves around family and spending precious time with her children. But it’s also about something bigger: Mother’s Day is when Gordon starts to fundraise for the Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure® so she can do her part to help end breast cancer.

“I started my (Race for the Cure) team because I wanted to do more,” said Gordon, a South Brunswick resident who was 41 years old when diagnosed with breast cancer. “I have really good health benefits and I had a wonderful support system with my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends and people at work. After I was healthy again, I realized everyone isn’t as lucky as I am so I started a Race for the Cure team for Komen Central and South Jersey.”

The Race for the Cure on November 5, 2017 at Six Flags Great Adventure is the primary fundraiser for Komen Central and South Jersey, funding more than half of the life-saving services, screenings and educational programs from Somerset to Cape May. Locally, the Affiliate has funded 70,000 free mammography screenings, provided one-on-one education and support for over 250,000 community residents, invested over $13 million in community programs and provided $3.7 million to New Jersey breast cancer researchers.

When Gordon was diagnosed with Stage 2A Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, the first thing that crossed her mind was her children, a 20-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter.

“I didn’t tell them, my husband did because it broke my heart,” Gordon said. “He told them I had this diagnosis and as a mom I was petrified. I wasn’t going to see my kids get married, that’s the first thing that went through my head. I was terrified, I knew I’d see my daughter graduate high school, but would I see my kids get married, am I going to meet my grandkids?”

After a couple of weeks, the shock and fear wore off and Gordon’s attitude changed. “I was going to beat this and I was going to win,” she said. “My mentality changed from I’m not going to see my grandkids to I’m going to beat this and I’m going to be a success story.”

Gordon completed four months of chemotherapy after a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and a hysterectomy.

Gordon is very close with her mother, who lives nearby. “She took (the diagnosis) hard, but she went to all my doctor’s appointments,” she said. “She went to the breast surgeon and radiation oncologist with me. She was extremely supportive.”

Once Gordon, now a four-year survivor, had her health back and completed treatment, she wanted to help others.

Her team of 40, Hakuna My Ta-Tas, participated in their first Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure in 2014.

After her first Race, Gordon wanted to get further involved and now is volunteering as the Race for the Cure Registration Chair.

In addition to being a team captain and Race volunteer, Gordon, her mother, and aunt hosted an event in Millstone in March to raise funds for their race team and collected more than $8,500.

To support survivors like Gordon, get involved with the Race for the Cure. Registration is now open: www.komencsnj.org/race!