TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - There will be about 1,800 breast cancer survivors in this year's Race for the Cure event in downtown Toledo. Each of those has their own story of courage and hope, but Denise McCroskey's story stands out as the one this year's race is named in celebration of.
"I found it in September of 2011 – I found the lump," Denise said. "And instantly I knew I had cancer. Something went through me; I just knew."
When the doctor confirmed that Denise had stage three breast cancer and would need surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She looked to her friends and family for support, but it was Denise's surgeon that spoke the words she held onto throughout her recovery.
"She looked me in the eye and said, 'We can cure you!' And I didn't believe her," Denise said. "But those words brought me the greatest amount of hope. I had them put on my dining room wall, and in my darkest hour, I would sit there and stare at them and repeat them over and over again."
Denise admits there were dark days during her journey, but her friends were always there to pick her up.
"On one of my darkest days during chemo, an old friend from high school sent me a card and a note that said, 'Hello, courage,' and it was just that small token that just got me through that day," she recalled.
"Hello, courage" became the name for Denise's Race for the Cure team and for the blog she started about cancer. The blog has received more than half a million views from 132 countries, and Denise has answered 2,500 emails from people, including a young doctor in India diagnosed with breast cancer.
"She said nothing prepared her in medical school for how grueling chemo was. She tells me I saved her life because I just gave her the hope to get her through," Denise said. "I get 10 emails a day. I want to give women the same hope I received."
Breast cancer awareness has become Denise's mission.
For information on the upcoming Race for the Cure events in Toledo and Findlay, click here.