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AVON racers

Preparing to walk to battle cancer are, from left, Pam Fiber-Ostrow, Lt. Col. Billy Howard, Shelly Arsneault, Carrie Lane and Marisol Escobedo. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Racing for a Cure

Five faculty members and a student to participate in Sept. 15-16 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

August 27, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

They have been touched by people who have battled breast cancer and they want to attack the disease that affects more than 1.2 million people worldwide.

Five faculty members and an undergraduate student — Shelly Arsneault, associate professor of political science; Erin Hollis, professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics; Lt. Col. Billy Howard, professor of military science; Pam Fiber-Ostrow, assistant professor of political science; Carrie Lane, assistant professor of American studies; and Marisol Escobedo, an American studies major — are lacing up their running shoes and participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a two-day, 39-mile trek through Los Angeles, to raise money for a cure for breast cancer.

“My mom’s a survivor,” Escobedo said. “She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation when I was 18 — seven years ago. It was a really hard time and I couldn’t have gotten through it without my mom. The first thing she said, after ‘I have cancer’ was ‘don’t use this as an excuse to not do your homework.’ Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do this walk. It’s a good cause. The more awareness we can raise about breast cancer, the more women will get their check-ups.”

Arsneault said that while she has no family members with breast cancer, she participated in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure in Phoenix in 2004 and "realized how often this is an inherited illness."

“There were dozens of people walking and running for their moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters, etc., and I realized how fortunate my family has been," she said. "Last year, I got the invitation to do the Avon Walk in the mail a few times and thought, why not?

“The amazing part is how many people who have donated to my walk say, ‘thank you for doing this. My sister, mother, grandmother, etc. is a survivor’ or, worse yet, ‘died of breast cancer.’ Two of my friends have moms who are survivors, and the wife of another friend is a survivor, so I feel a kinship with the many families who have suffered because of this very prevalent disease,” Arsneault added. “And, frankly, Carrie Lane and I had so much fun walking together in 2006 with Pam Fiber-Ostrow on crew that it would have been a shame not to get out there, raise money and walk again this year. People told me that it would be an amazing experience and it’s true!”

Fiber-Ostrow said she has several friends who have survived breast cancer, mastectomies and lumpectomies.

"Finding a cure and helping women with this disease can not be left in the hands of the overly male Congress for funding," she said. "Fighting breast cancer is a women’s issue, it means women standing up for women because if we don’t, who will?”

Lane is the reason Hollis is walking. “She did the walk last year, and inspired me to do the walk this year. Her willingness to give of herself to help others is enormous. Her grace and charity towards others is beautiful. I am also participating in the walk because two of my grandparents had some form of cancer, and I want to do what I can to help research and help those who are having difficulty getting treatment.”

“This is a disease so closely associated with women (though some men do get it too), and women have done such an amazing job rallying support for and awareness of the battle against breast cancer over the last decade,” said Lane. “Women’s health clearly hasn’t been a priority for the medical establishment for a long time, and I think the fight against breast cancer has played a significant role in raising awareness about women’s health, and cancer prevention, more generally. It’s terrifying to me that breast cancer is particularly lethal among young women.

“I’m fortunate not to have lost anyone close to me to breast cancer, but I do know many survivors, and some of the people who’ve supported me have lost close friends, sisters and spouses to breast cancer,” Lane added. “So the chance to be a part of what I consider a real political and medical movement is too exciting to pass up.”

As Team Titan, the women have raised $8,679 toward their $10,000 target before the Sept. 15-16 event. To make a contribution to a member of Team Titan, go to

Howard is part of another team that has raised $10,875 so far.

“My wife and I have been training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for a year now,” said Howard. “We completed the L.A. Marathon and San Francisco Marathon in an effort to prepare for this walk and to inspire others to participate in such a great cause. Being a runner in these events makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile and contributing to something that can save lives and prevent individuals and families from experiencing such hardship.

“My inspiration to make a difference in those diagnosed with cancer was my late Aunt Debbie Gollery, who died of breast cancer, and a close friend who is currently fighting breast cancer,” said Howard. To see his page, visit

Proceeds from the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer go to the Avon Foundation, which funds services and treatment for medically underserved men and women with breast cancer. For more information, go to


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