ATLANTIC CITY — Anne Neustadter has had decades to prepare for the news she received last week, and still, she was floored when she was told she had breast cancer.
The daughter of Shirley Mae Goldberg, the namesake of the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Assistance Fund and sponsor of the annual Shirley Mae Run, held Saturday for the 12th year, Neustadter said her diagnosis was unwelcome but not unexpected.
With a family tree that includes her mother, two aunts (twins) on her father’s side and a cousin who are all breast cancer survivors, Neustadter knew the genetic pool into which she’d been born meant an increased chance of cancer.
And while she may not have been ready for the news on May 2, the Margate resident was ready with an answer.
“Take them off,” she said she told her doctor. “I decided, because of my mother, aunts and cousin, to have a double mastectomy on Tuesday. I was too busy this week with the race to do anything sooner.”
Neustadter’s husband, Michael, who died two years ago of pancreatic cancer, is the namesake of the Michael J. Walk, which also was held Saturday on the Boardwalk in front of Tropicana Casino and Resort. Roberta Cincotti, coordinator of the event, said more than 2,500 participants in the 5K run, 1.5-mile walk and kids’ fun run raised more than $90,000 for the two cancer funds and Gilda’s Club South Jersey this year.
Neustadter’s paternal aunt, Ronnie Alper, of Margate, and her cousin, Lisa Alper-Russo, of Northfield, were diagnosed 11 and 10 years ago, respectively, with breast cancer. Alper said she was 61, the same age as Neustadter, when she received her diagnosis. Her twin, Terrie Bergman, of Las Vegas, received her diagnosis 10 years before Alper’s.
And Neustadter’s mother, Shirley Mae, who returned to the area from her home in Florida for the fundraiser, is a 15-year survivor.
“I check all the time,” Alper said. “I have mammograms and physical checkups, and I’m going to keep checking.”
The Shirley Mae fund provides assistance, such as wigs, prostheses and medication, to patients whose insurance does not cover those costs, said Joan Lucas, of Margate, a volunteer since the run’s inception in 2000. She said she lost her sister to cancer three years ago. The Michael J. Fund primarily helps fund research, Neustadter said.
About 35 friends and relatives of Donna Delaney participated in the event in her honor for the first time last year, prompted by her diagnosis of gall bladder cancer in March 2013. This year, twice as many people participated in the event in her memory, as Delaney died in October, seven months after her diagnosis.
Wearing purple T-shirts bearing the words “Team Delaney 2014” on the front and “Donna Forever in Our Hearts” on the back, the contingent represented the third-largest team participating in the event. Back Bay Ale House in Atlantic City, with 198 participants, was the largest.
Included in the Team Delaney group were Donna’s children, Danielle McKelvey and Dustin Delaney; brother Charles DeVoe, of Dallas, Texas; her mother, Vivian DeVoe, of Somers Point; her sister, Laura Applegate, of Linwood; Applegate’s husband Chris and daughter Amanda; and her physician, Dr. Ken Schwab, of Linwood.
“This is going to be a family tradition,” Laura Applegate saad. “We’re going to make this an annual event.”
Julie Moberg, of Somers Point, walked for her roommate from veterinary school and her mother, both breast cancer survivors. A vet with the Ocean City Humane Society, Moberg said her roommate had a double mastectomy soon after they graduated.
For more information, visit www.shirleymaefund .org and www.mjnpancreaticfund.org.
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