Team races 60 miles for breast cancer research
After learning her close family friend was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, Madeline Michels wanted to do something meaningful to help.
The Plymouth sophomore and her mother, Kallie Michels, participated in a Susan G. Komen race as a team Aug. 7-9 after their friend, Lisa Massie, a Central Michigan University alumnus from Livonia, was diagnosed with the disease last January. Massie's daughter, Amy, joined the team for the 60 mile race.
Lisa Massie and Kallie Michels knew each other in high school, but didn’t become the close friends they are today until they lived together at CMU. Their families have been close ever since. Madeline considers Lisa a “second mother.”
“She’s supported me with everything I’ve chosen to do in life, and I think the least I can do is walk a three day race for her,” Madeline said.
The participants completed a 20-mile route each day of the race, starting in Novi the first two days, and looping back to their campsite. The third day started in Livonia, finishing in Dearborn at Ford Motor Company for the closing ceremonies.
After completing their routes the first two nights, Madeline and her mother would return to their campsite along with all the other participants. They met a lot of people both at the campsite and at the walk, she said.
They took the time to meet other people at the campsite and hear their stories, Madeline said, meeting survivors, people walking for others. Nobody’s story was the same, she said.
Madeline and her team received horrible blisters, and a lot of pain from walking, but said she, “can’t complain because she’s walking next to someone who has gone through more than she ever has.”
To participate in the race, each participant must raise at least $2,300, which for the three of them came up to nearly $7,000 cumulatively, for the Susan G. Komen foundation, which is dedicated to education and research on breast cancer. To raise the money, their team asked family and friends for donations.
Kallie said she is proud of Madeline and Amy for being committed to the walk.
“Before I did the walk, I wasn’t aware of how much I could actually do, Michels said. Even if you just start a 5k here designated to breast cancer, then that can make a difference in the statistics.”
When Lisa was diagnosed she said she was devastated, but the support she received from Madeline, “propelled her forward,” and “broke her out of the darkness,” and showed her that she was not alone in her struggle.
Lisa is scanned every three months to check her progress and she is responding positively to her cancer treatment, which travelled to her bones, and is in the “stable to improved category." She plans to “live her life with joy for the next three months,” when the next scan will take place.
While she was not a participant in the race, she was not absent from the proceedings either.
Lisa visited the Novi campsite on the first night of the race and saw “pink tents as far as the eye can see." She also went to a cheering station for the runners the next day, and attended the closing ceremonies as well. At the closing ceremonies she saw everyone bandaged up, and she was “moved by the process” and by what people put themselves through for the cause.
“There was not a dry eye in the entire place,” Madeline said.