It started with an annual mammogram in August 2007. A few months later, Karen was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. Since stage 0 means the cancer cells have not invaded the normal tissue, a total mastectomy can cure the problem with radiation rarely needed.
"I feel very fortunate," the Greencastle native said about having her cancer detected early. "Having annual mammograms are very important, especially for women after the age of 40."
Phillips received her treatment from St. Vincent's Oncology Center in Indianapolis. During a follow-up doctor visit, she noticed a flyer for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer event.
"It was perfect," she said. "I wanted to do something to help raise awareness."
The Weekend to End Breast Cancer is a two-day 38-mile walk, or a one-day 19-mile walk, bringing together thousands of men and women in support of the fight against breast and gynecologic cancers. Throughout the weekend, walkers are supported by hundreds of volunteers and crew, who provide meals, water, snack stops and comprehensive medical services, as well as ensure gear transport and safety on the streets.
The 2010 edition of the Weekend will take place Sept. 25 and walkers will travel the streets of Carmel and north side of Indianapolis to camp where a warm meal will be provided. The journey will end the afternoon of Sept. 26.
"The proceeds from Weekend benefit the St. Vincent Foundation to support patients through medical research, education, technology, equipment, programs and services," said Nancy Frick, director of foundation advancement at St. Vincent.
It's a four-fold idea: Providing a treatment fund for women without insurance or limited insurance; survivor programs for women undergoing treatment and need a wig or meeting the needs of long-term survivors; clinical research; and having the technology and education to prevent breast cancer.
"We have made great strides in progress," Frick said. "Recovery rates are much higher than in the past."
Last year, a total of $1.3 million was raised.
"I encourage people to support the event even though it's a fundraiser," said Phillips, who will be participating for the second year. "It's rare cancer doesn't effect someone, people should want to help."
To sign up and receive 20 percent off the registration fee, visit www.endcancer.org or call 317-879-WALK.