BLUFFTON, OH (WTOL) - Each year, The Northwest Ohio Komen Race for the Cure is named "In Celebration of" someone who has survived breast cancer.
Any day of the week you'll find lots of activities, competitions, and smiles at the Huffman home in Bluffton. Eli, 12, Owen, 10, and Ava, 8, keep their mother, Laura, busy- and to her every hectic day is a gift to be treasured.
Just eight years ago she wasn't sure what the future might hold. Her youngest child, Ava, was just a few months old when Laura found a couple of lumps in her breast, and wen to the doctor to have them checked.
"That was on a Wednesday I had a mammogram, on Thursday I had a biopsy, I was diagnosed on Friday, and started chemo Monday. So within four days I went from not knowing breast cancer was going to be in my journey to starting chemo four days later for aggressive cancer," said Laura Huffman. "The diagnosis, the pathology report was actually stage three advanced triple negative so it had already spread to my lymph nodes."
Laura went through aggressive chemotherapy for four months before having a double mastectomy. She was just 31-years-old, taking care of three young children, and had just started her own physical therapy business a year earlier.
"I'm not gonna lie, the nights were hard when the kids were in bed and the house was quiet and it was just me and Josh. That's when I would cry and process things and those were hard times, but the day times were so busy and my friends surrounded me, so I really never had time to wonder what if?" said Laura Huffman.
"Definitely, I was amazed by how she could do all this and proud is another great word to use," said Josh Huffman. "She was able to keep her business going, keep the family going with three small kids at home, just to do all that while going through it just blew me away."
Laura inspired her family and friends with her positive attitude and her generosity. She shared her cancer journey with other young breast cancer survivors, and helped raise awareness at community events. But nine months after she was diagnosed, Laura got more tough news: Her best friend and neighbor Sarah was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and although their stories were written with many similarities, Sarah's would have a different ending.
"Her journey was very, very, very hard and she ended up passing away three years ago and it was a very hard time. Four little boys she left behind, and the guilt of me being left behind, was a whole different part of my journey I didn't expect. But I miss her every day, and I wonder why me?" said Laura Huffman.
Laura says she draws inspiration from Sarah and strength from god to help others diagnosed with breast cancer, especially younger women.
She has participated many times in the Race for the Cure in both Toledo and Findlay, raising thousands of dollars for NW Ohio Komen. But she was totally surprised to find out this year's Findlay Race for the Cure would be run in celebration of her! She didn't even know her husband Josh nominated her for the honor.
"I think she's the most worthy. I'm a little biased of course, but when we got the news I was just elated. No one, in my opinion, has done more to be uplifting, help others, to fight for the cause and get awareness out. Especially her being a young survivor, that's kind of a platform in itself. She can use that, and we were pumped," said Josh Huffman.
Laura is grateful for the support she's received from Josh and her kids, and considers it a privilege to represent the hundreds of survivors who will participate in the 2016 Findlay race for the cure.
"When you go to a Komen race you know you're not alone, so it's such an honor to be part of this healing experience," said Laura Huffman. "When you go there and see all the people and the love, and the warmth, that's something you can't describe unless you're there that day."