Lauren, Kim and Erin

Lauren Watts, Kim Kirby and Erin Ellington met after they were diagnosed with breast cancer in fall 2020.

BOONE — On Oct. 30, three local women who were diagnosed with breast cancer are doing a 5K walk to fundraise for the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation at the Boone Greenway Trail.

Lauren Watts, Kim Kirby and Erin Ellington were all diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2020. While they are celebrating that they are cancer free, each of them is still in active treatment either on chemotherapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy.

Every year, the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation does a 5K, but the event was moved to a virtual format this year due to COVID-19.

Even though it’s still on as a virtual event, Watts, Kirby and Ellington wanted to do something a little more.

“We all have a really big community support between the three of us, and so we just decided ‘Hey guys, the run was scheduled for Oct. 30. Let’s still do it,’” Kirby said. “Let’s just round up our crews and our crowd and our tribe and let’s all just go meet at the Greenway assuming weather’s OK and let’s still walk in support of breast cancer survivors. Those who have gone before us, those who have yet to go through it, and let’s raise money for the foundation so they can keep helping more breast cancer patients.”

For the three women, the HCBCF has helped them tremendously during their fight against breast cancer. According to the women, the HCBCF paid for cold capping so they did not lose their hair.

“I think we all felt really indebted to the foundation that we got that support and all got to keep our hair,” Watts said. “When you have small children, losing your hair looks really scary to them. We wanted to give back. We needed to just try to get awareness and give back to this group that’s given so much to us.”

Kirby said talking to others who have had breast cancer, losing their hair was one of the hardest parts when going through chemotherapy. She said HCBCF paying for the cold capping — which helps them with their hair — helped her mental state in a huge way.

All three of the women met shortly after getting the breast cancer diagnosis. Shortly after diagnoses, they received six months of chemotherapy, surgery and more than 30 rounds of radiation.

For each of them, meeting one another helped tremendously.

“If you have to go through it, it is something that you need to have other people that understand what you’re going through because it’s actually a comfort,” Ellington said. “It really helped a lot. Kim had the same cancer treatment regimen as me and so I was able to ask her questions and ask Lauren questions. It’s just really comforting to have folks who know what’s going on to kind of rely on and lean upon.”

Ellington said she knows it sounds cliche when people call it a sisterhood, but she said that’s what she found when meeting these women and other community members battling breast cancer.

“They are my sisters, my pink sisters,” Ellington said. “It’s just something that we went through together that will remain with us and keep us together until forever, honestly.”

The other day, Watts said she read about someone who had their cancer return, which she said took her to a dark place.

“It just brings up your own fears,” Watts said. “You go through all this and you hope never to deal with it again. But I knew that I could text Erin and Kim and go to a safe place and express that and they would understand and they know all the right things to say.”

Having each other to rely on helped them through their journey and is part of the reason they wanted to raise more money for HCBCF.

“Me, Erin and Lauren are just really so passionate about (HCBCF) mission and what they are doing,” Kirby said. “Each of us have such a strong drive here in Boone and we just really wanted to raise a lot of money for the foundation so that they can help other patients the way that they’ve helped us.”

The mission of the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation is to support breast cancer patients, survivors and their families in the High Country of North Carolina.

The run will take place at 9 a.m. on Oct. 30 at the Boone Greenway. Those wishing to donate or register for the virtual 5K can do so at hcbcf.org/events/2021-virtual-5k-event/?fbclid=IwAR0ce2cuGXjtsPOm1ydG0iAxyUi2qA1Gc0VrQfr2716xf-Gp5rTwpevwGYQ.

Those wishing to support Watts, Kirby and Ellington can do so by filling out the team name section.

  • Lauren’s team — Lauren’s Lovelies
  • Kim’s Team — KimsKrew
  • Erin’s Team — Ellington Ensemble

All proceeds will go directly to the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation to support others in the High Country who are fighting breast cancer. More information on the Greenway event can be found at tinyurl.com/2tkzruf5.

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