Cancer touches just about everyone, but Judy Zasloff LaKind has lost more to it than most people.
She rattles off the list of loved ones gone too soon. Her dad, lost to prostate cancer. A younger brother lost to lymphoma. Her late husband, who fought lung cancer for a year before he died. Her daughter-in-law is fighting brain cancer. Her current husband survived prostate cancer.
“We’ve had too much cancer in our family,” the BallenIsles resident said.
Not one to sit on the sidelines, LaKind’s 94-year-old mother Ethel Kapnek has rallied four generations of her family, including herself, to walk in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge 5K at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens next Saturday.
The 5K’s costs are underwritten so that all of the money raised goes to cancer research at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Last year, Kapnek, who lives in Boca Raton, raised about $2,500. She raised the most of everyone in her chapter of the Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research, LaKind said.
Kapnek got involved so that “hopefully some other mother doesn’t have to lose her child to cancer,” LaKind said.
Motivated by her loss, Kapnek said she’s been involved in raising money for cancer research for more than a decade. She has her sights set on hitting the $3,000 mark this year.
Either way, this walk holds a special treat: her grandson and 8-year-old great-grandson are coming from California to walk alongside her in the roughly 3-mile jaunt.
Another grandson is coming from Seattle. His wife has had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for her brain cancer and is back to work at a bio tech company that manages clinical trials of cancer drugs.
The 47-year-old former marathon runner is doing well now and able to run a mile or two, LaKind said.
As for Kapnek, she stays fit exercising on the treadmill for at least half an hour after her exercise class three days a week at Century Village. She finished last year’s 5K toward the end of the pack, collecting high-fives from people cheering her on from the sidelines along the way.
Finishing the walk gives the family back some of the power that cancer tried to steal.
“It’s very exciting. You feel like you’ve accomplished a great deal,” LaKind said.