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National Race Comes To Sioux Falls

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Back in 1982, a sister promised her dying sibling that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. Since then, the Susan G. Komen race, an organization that focuses on finding a cure and preventing breast cancer in women, has spread nation-wide. The nationally known race made its way to Sioux Falls Sunday.

Studies show that one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their life. To help stop cancer in its tracks, thousands laced up their shoes this morning for the South Dakota Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure in downtown Sioux

From pink hats, to face paint and all that's in between, the color was sprinkled all throughout Falls Park.

"It's really about coming together and celebrating life and hope and survivorship,” said Executive Director of South Dakota Affiliated Susan G. Komen Cure For Cancer Race, Mary Kolsrud.

In 2009, one of the biggest breast cancer awareness races in the country expanded to South Dakota. With it, has come more research and advancements in detection, prevention and treatment for those living with breast cancer.

"To date, we've touched lives of over 34,000 men and women in our state and have provided over 800 mammograms and clinical breast exams. We've detected 120 cases of breast cancer from those exams,” said Kolsrud.

Dr. Jesse Dirksen is a breast surgeon at Sanford Health that works with breast-cancer patients daily. On Sunday, he traded in his stethoscope and lab coat and became a cheerleader, cheering on some familiar faces at the finish line.

"Through this research, we are able to make advances and not only the treatment of cancer but diagnosing it and picking it up earlier and earlier," said Sanford Health Breast Surgeon Dr. Jesse Dirksen.

Dirksen says over the last 5 years, detection rates have gone up, meaning women are catching breast cancer at earlier stages. Survival rates have increased too.

"{When it comes to} early detection, the survival rates and long-term outcomes have greatly improved in the last couple of decades," Dirksen.

The money that the organizations supporters bring in goes to mammograms, clinical breast exams and diagnostic services. This event alone funded more than 200 mammograms to women and men around the state last year.

"We all know early detection saves lives, so if we can get these women those mammograms, that is vitally important," said Kolsrud.

Dirksen says over the last five years 3-D mammograms have become available, which can take a couple hundred images, to help detect breast cancer. Dirksen says every woman should start getting mammograms at the age of 40, or even earlier if you feel you are at-risk.

Last year's race raised $74,000 for the foundation. This year's goal was 100,000  dollars. Seventy-five percent of the South Dakota Susan B. Komen race funds stay in the state. The rest goes to research, some of which is done in South Dakota.
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