D-M Airmen race for one of their own

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from D-M recently participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K at Reid park March 25, to help raise awareness about the life-altering disease of breast cancer and to support one of their own.

Senior Master Sgt. Aubry Herrera, 355th Fighter Wing staff superintendent, has Stage III breast cancer. She has been battling it for four years. She's undergone 19 months of chemotherapy, radiation and nine surgeries.

Despite all that, she has never missed a day of work.

"Other than the surgery time, I've never missed a day," Herrera said. "I work through the chemo and the radiation. It helps get me through what I need to do mentally. I didn't want to lose my career. It was mind over matter. I didn't want to use my cancer as a crutch."

With no history of breast cancer in her family, Herrera often wondered why she developed the disease. She has started to think there are other reasons as to why breast cancer affected her.

"I always wondered why me," Herrera said. "You never know why you're touched with this disease. I think maybe the reason I got it was to promote the awareness and help other people who are going through it right now to deal and cope with it."

She started to get awareness out about the race through her coworkers on base. She encouraged everyone to get some friends together and join in on this cause.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 227,000 women and about 2,200 men will get breast cancer in 2012. The disease doesn't discriminate and can affect anyone.

Just as Herrera is not alone among those suffering from breast cancer, when the day came to race Herrera wasn't alone either. Joining her were 125 Airmen and their family members. They came wearing matching shirts in support of their military family member.
Included in the long list of fellow Airmen was Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Howard, 355th Fighter Wing command chief. Not only did he participate to show support to Herrera, he was also supporting his wife Sarah, who was recently diagnosed.

"I've participated every year, just in different events," Howard said. "This year it has a greater significance to me with my wife having been diagnosed. I'm out here to show my support to everyone who has breast cancer. Most people out here, if they haven't been touched with it directly like Sergeant Herrera or my wife, are going to know someone who has breast cancer. We're living proof that it can affect anyone."

The Airmen's time wasn't the only thing donated to the 5K. The total number of team members for Sergeant Herrera, including the 125 that showed up to race, was 213. They raised more than $12,800. Their team also brought home Tucson's Largest Team Award.

"It's very humbling," Herrera said. "No one is getting anything from doing it. Instead, they're giving their time and money and they're out here walking with their families for a bigger cause, a very rewarding cause. If it wasn't for supporters participating in events like these, I wouldn't be here today. I'm thankful every day for the support I have."