As an ER nurse at Broward Health Coral Springs, Michelle Loberfeld knows the importance of early detection in breast cancer prevention.
After her cousin was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, Loberfeld started getting annual mammograms at the age of 35- a little earlier than the recommended age of 40. In 2016, her annual mammogram results came back clear, but several weeks after, she felt an unusual lump on her breast.
"I went to the Women's Center at Broward Health Coral Springs to get another mammogram,"Loberfeld said. "When I saw their faces, I knew the news would not be good.";
Follow-up tests would confirm her fears- she had stage III breast cancer. After crying for about an hour, Loberfeld went into warrior mode. She opted for a double mastectomy because, as a nurse, she had"seen these types of cancers return," she said.
"For Michelle, making the difficult decision of opting for a double mastectomy impacted her not only physically but emotionally, as her anatomy and appearance would take on a different look," said Rohan Faria, M.D., hematologist oncologist with Broward Health Coral Springs. "Michelle's will to live and can-do attitude has made her stronger."
Following her mastectomy, Loberfeld prepared for her rounds of chemotherapy. To get ready for the journey, she cut her long hair and donated it.
"I figured it would be less shocking if it was short when it started to fall off," said Loberfeld. "I was wrong. The day I shaved my head was very emotional. In the end, it gave me an incredible sense of empowerment, like battle scars."
That same feeling motivated Loberfeld to participate in the Race for Women's Wellness in March 2017. Despite a chemotherapy infusion on Wednesday, Loberfeld walked the following Saturday, gathering more than 100 people to join her.
Today, Loberfeld has been cancer-free for 18 months and recovering from the last phase of her breast reconstruction. With her treatment behind her, she is getting ready to do the Race for Women's Wellness for the third time on March 23, 2019 at the Coral Springs Tennis Center. Proceeds from the race benefit the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund to provide funding for breast care to women who are financially in need.
"To me, this walk means hope," Loberfeld said. "I was lucky enough to have insurance coverage for my treatment. Others are not as fortunate."
To register for the half marathon or 5k race, visit https://www.itzevents.com/raceforwomenswellness or for more information or to volunteer, call 954.344.3344.