DALLAS, Texas, June 4. MICHELLE Berndt of Mansfield, Texas, knows Angelina Jolie's story of double mastectomy all too well. In 2011, Berndt tested positive for a BRCA mutation at age 29, the same genetic test taken by Jolie, and was preparing to have a preventive double mastectomy at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Her mother and grandmother both fought breast cancer, and she knew her risk of getting the disease was very high.
Weeks before the surgery, she discovered that the breast cancer she was hoping to prevent was already there. She noticed a lump in her breast and a biopsy confirmed it was cancer.
After surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy in 2012, the wife and mother of two not only beat cancer, she returned to life in a remarkable way: winning the Mrs. Texas International 2013 pageant.
“Now with my cancer in remission, I have chosen to commit my time to volunteering with organizations that support cancer research, education, and patient support,” Berndt says. “I want to do my part to ensure my children can one day live in a cancer-free world.”
On Saturday, June 8, 2013, at The Harbor at Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall, Texas, Berndt will be the honorary starter of the Swim Across America — Dallas (SAA) open water swim event, which local swimmers, former Olympians, and cancer survivors raise money for the Innovative Clinical Trials Center at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas. SAA participants will swim knowing that the money they have raised is staying local.
In 2011, the same year of Berndt's diagnosis, SAA organizers pledged to raise $1 million for Baylor Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas. The event, which has raised $600,000 in just two years is well on its way to fulfilling that pledge.
Swimmers must raise a minimum of $500 in order to participate in the 1/2-mile, 1-mile or 2-mile course at Lake Ray Hubbard. They may swim individually, or as part of a team, to honor friends and family that have been affected by cancer.
To learn more about how SAA is “making waves to fight cancer,” please visit swimacrossamerica.org/dallas.
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