There will be thousands of people in pink at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Omaha Sunday morning, but Stacey Michaud is likely to stand out.
She'll be in a survivor's shirt, and it will be a little snug — the 39-year-old is sporting a baby bump. She's due to deliver her third child in three weeks, despite receiving cancer treatments that threaten fertility.
“It's extremely emotional,” Michaud said of the pregnancy, the cancer and Race for the Cure.
It is estimated that more than 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The breast cancer awareness event is an opportunity to honor those who lost their battle with the disease, celebrate those who won and run for those who continue to fight.
Michaud, of Omaha, was diagnosed in 2009. She didn't feel a lump, but noticed a discolored patch of skin on her breast. She figured it was a byproduct of weaning her then 5-month-old daughter.
She scheduled a doctor's appointment, expecting a prescription for a skin cream. Instead, at 34, she had a mammogram for the first time.
Michaud started chemotherapy, which can lead to infertility, a week later. She remembers her doctor's warning before her first treatment: “You're done having kids. Are you OK with that?”
Chemotherapy can cause irregular periods and push women into early menopause, which threatens fertility, said Dr. James Reilly, a surgical oncologist who specializes in breast surgery at Methodist Hospital. Reilly was not Michaud's doctor.
During treatment, natural fertility might also start to decline. It's not impossible to become pregnant, though. Michaud is proof of that.
A few months ago, she noticed her belly-button pop outward, like something was pressing against her stomach. She felt bloated and nauseous and looked rounder along her waistline, unusual for someone who exercises six days a week.
She went to the doctor with her husband, fearing a tumor or hernia. A baby was out of the question — or so she thought. The ultrasound technician told her she was 20 weeks pregnant.
“I'm excited that my life has moved beyond the cancer,” she said. “There's so many other things to look forward to.”
She said she'll run the 5K next year, but this weekend, the expectant mother will stick to the 1-mile event. And in a few weeks, she will give birth to a baby boy, a healthy one, her doctor says.
He'll be in the survivor photo by default, taken outside the CenturyLink Center before the event starts.
“I'm extremely grateful to have that picture taken,” she said. “To take it every year. You don't feel alone with all those people surrounding you.”
Mayor Jean Stothert will proclaim Sunday the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Day about 7:30 a.m., before the survivor photo.
The 5K for timed runners will kick off at 8:15 a.m., and the 5K for non-timed participants starts 15 minutes later. The 1-mile walk is at 9 a.m.