Making Strides To Save Lives, Local Business Owner Encourages Generosity

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka daycare owner, Mary Hughes, is used to taking care of others, but an annual mammogram in 2011 revealed she would soon be the one needing cared for.

Mary, who has owned Handprints Child Care in east Topeka for 17 years, said the doctor said he saw a spot and suggested she do a biopsy. Mary said she didn't believe the biopsy would show anything serious. "I went to bed feeling good... I woke up and my doctor called me at 8 o'clock. My whole life changed, because I got the news I had cancer."

Soon after her diagnosis, Mary had surgery, then began chemotherapy and radiation. While going through chemo, Mary got in touch with the American Cancer Society's Look Good, Feel Better program, which is meant to help restore self-confidence.

"That was awesome!" Mary said of the program. "The makeup and body wash they gave us - I was excited about it."

Mary was also excited about the support she received from her daycare kids and their parents. Known to the kids as "grandma," Mary saw the kids less when she was going through treatments. "They did lift my spirits. I wanted to see them as much as they wanted to see me," she said.

The last day of her radiation, Mary was notified that she'd been nominated for a small business award. She said the exciting announcement gave her something to focus on and helped her also focus on healing.

Cancer-free, Mary decided she wanted to give back to the organization that helped her through such a tough time. In 2012, many of her daycare parents joined her in forming a team - team Handprints - for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Last year the group's fundraising goal was $250. This year, Mary says they're hoping to raise $500; and she's already collected half that in donations on her own!

"The Cancer Society is there for us and we need to make sure we give as much as we can because they really do see you through this," Mary said. "Without that help, I don't know. I don't know- would I be a survivor today? Or would I have just got depressed and gave up?"

The 2013 Making Strides event in Topeka begins at Noon at the Statehouse, 300 SW 10th Ave. The walk starts at 1:00 p.m.

Join team W.I.B.W. (Where Individuals Become Warriors) and 13 News This Morning anchor, Amanda Lanum, or make a donation, by visiting

Money raised at the event goes toward funding the American Cancer Society's breast cancer research, information and services - like the Look Good, Feel Better program - and access to mammograms for women who need them.