Making Strides Walk at Jones Beach set for Oct. 21

WABC reporter helps kick off preparations for country's largest event

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Stacey Sager was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1990s, at age 30. She fought the disease, undergoing a double mastectomy, and survived. She reported in 1999 on her diagnosis and treatment for “Eyewitness News” on WABC-TV in New York City, for which she has been an on-air reporter since 1996.

Nearly a decade and a half later, in 2011, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Again, she survived and reported on her treatment for “Eyewitness News.”

That year, Sager learned she carried the genetic mutations that cause breast cancer and ovarian cancer. That wasn’t entirely unexpected. Cancer had struck five generations of women in her family. Sager’s mother died of breast cancer at age 44.

Sager, now 51, told her sobering story at the Aug. 15 kickoff breakfast to promote the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach State Park on Oct. 21. A second walk will take place at Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus on Oct. 28. Sager was the breakfast’s emcee, along with Meaghan Neary, senior community manager for the American Cancer Society.

Despite her many trials, Sager remains upbeat to this day. “I’m surviving, and I’m thriving,” she said.

So many inspiring stories yesterday @MakingStridesLi kickoff breakfast! As a cancer survivor myself, I loved hearing each and every one! Worth getting up early! Don’t forget to join us @ Jones Beach on October 21st for #makingstrides against #breastcancer @AmericanCancer #cancer pic.twitter.com/j5lvUON1nE

####2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Long Island. Last year, 65,000 people took part in the walk, raising $3 million. Organizers said they hope to top that figure this year. Proceeds will support cancer researchers, patients and survivors.

This year, Herald Community Newspapers is serving as a media sponsor of the Jones Beach walk, along with WABC-TV, WBAB 102.3 and WBLI 106.1.

Sager, who lives in Nassau County with her husband and two young daughters, told the audience of more than 750 at the Crest Hollow County Club in Woodbury that cancer patients must think of themselves as survivors. “You’re a survivor the minute you hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’” she said.

Of the more than 200 Making Strides walks across the country, the Jones Beach walk is the largest. It is held each year in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Researchers have made big strides in understanding the origins of cancer and developing treatments for it — the breast cancer death rate, for example, dropped 39 percent between 1989 and 2015, according to the American Cancer Society.

“The fight,” however, “is far from over,” Sager said. “This is a Long Island fight.”

“I do this for my daughters,” she added.