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Patient “Celebrates” Her Survival

Missy Fish and Kris Hansford
Through their Celebrate Fitness workout event, Missy Fish, left, and Kris Hansford have helped raise thousands of dollars for Siteman.

April 2007 – Just a few months ago, more than 1,000 people gathered at Washington University for Celebrate Fitness, a workout event that would improve their health and benefit area women at the same time. Some did aerobics and strength training, while others tried yoga or water aerobics. More hardy souls attended a “boot camp” led by a no-nonsense drill instructor.

“It was a killer, but our boot camp participants loved it,” says Missy Fish. She and Kris Hansford are the co-chairs of Celebrate Fitness, which marked its 10th anniversary by raising $100,000 after expenses for Siteman Cancer Center’s Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program. The program – one of only a few in the nation – provides young women and young survivors with a variety of support and educational opportunities and conducts research aimed at identifying the genetic factors important in the development of breast cancer in young women.

Fish knows the pain of breast cancer herself, as well as the importance of early detection. In 1991, when she was only 39 years old, she was volunteering at a health fair, urging women to get mammograms, when she decided to schedule one for herself. There was no history of breast cancer in her family nor did she have any symptoms.

But that sudden inspiration may have saved her life. On her mammogram, Siteman physicians discovered intraductal breast cancer, caught so early she did not even need chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery. In 2005, the same kind of cancer appeared in her other breast, but again, doctors found it early because they were closely monitoring her.

Now Fish is more committed than ever to raising money for cancer care and research at Siteman. In addition to her continuing work with Celebrate Fitness, she helped chair a new event in November 2006 called CUREiosity, a loft party featuring music and a live fashion shoot that raised more than $40,000 after expenses for Siteman. The popularity of Celebrate Fitness has led Fish and Hansford to develop another fundraising event called Celebrate Spot — A Walk for Dogs and Their People.

“We really wanted to underwrite the $150,000 needed this year to fund the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program,” Fish says. “We decided an event in which participants could walk with their pets would be an ideal way to raise the additional funds.”

To learn more about Celebrate Fitness, Celebrate Spot and other "Celebrate" events, visit www.celebrate-events.org.

“A lot of people in St. Louis don’t realize how important the Siteman Cancer Center is,” Fish says. “It is such an impressive institution, and we are fortunate to have it in our backyard.”