Fort Mill Times

Zumbathon aims to save lives through awareness

Residents are invited to take their moves to the dance floor and help a good cause.

Fort Mill resident Kelly Kashmer’s nonprofit NothingPink, which aims to raise awareness of genetic testing and the risk of hereditary breast cancer, is hosting a Zumbathon at the Fort Mill Branch YMCA Sept. 10.

Due to a family history of breast cancer, Kashmer’s doctor encouraged her to have the BRCA genetic test in 2013 and discovered she was positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation. Women with abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes face an up to 80 percent risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

The mutations also increase risk for ovarian, thyroid and other cancers.

While the genetic test helps women identify steps they need to take for their health, in Kashmer’s case, a scan showed she already had Stage II Triple Negative breast cancer. She went through 10 months of chemotherapy and 11 surgeries, including the preventative removal of her ovaries.

Kashmer started NothingPink last year.

“It’s amazing to me how many people are still unaware that this test is available,” she said. “It gets you on such a better healthcare plan.”

Kashmer is hoping some dance exercise and education will spread the word. At the event, participants will have the opportunity to take NothingPink’s Hereditary Cancer Quiz to help determine their cancer risk and if they should seek genetic testing.

Since NothingPink’s inception, 12 people have done the testing through the organization, Kashmer said.

“It’s getting good traction, which has been great,” she said.

The first two people to do the genetic test, a married couple, opted for panel testing, which tests for 24 gene mutations, including the BRCA genes, Kashmer said. Both discovered they were positive for gene mutations heightening their risk for other cancers.

“It’s incredible for us to see right off the bat that this test works,” she said.

The genetic testing can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 and is not always covered by insurance, Kashmer said. NothingPink also aims to financially assist both men and women in getting genetic testing if need be, regardless of income or insurance status. So far, the organization has raised $21,000 and paid for one women’s panel testing.

“Right now, we try to help as many people as we can afford to be able to help,” Kashmer said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from our community.”

Education and awareness remain the organization’s main goals, Kashmer said. The Zumbathon is a chance to teach many residents about genetic testing while promoting a fun exercise.

“We are going to be able to touch so many different walks of life,” she said.

The Zumbathon is a chance to exercise and support local causes, said Beth Evansek, health and wellness coordinator for the Upper Palmetto YMCA.

“Bring your friends or make new friends while you are dancing the morning away for two excellent causes,” she said. “This event will put a smile on your face, rhythm in your soul, and warmth in your heart.”

The YMCA holds a special place in Kashmer’s heart as she used to work out there a few times a week before her diagnosis.

“They just completely embraced me when I got sick,” she said. “It is such a family environment. Nothing is better than going in there and seeing these amazing people that have rallied around me.”

Want to go?

What: NothingPink Zumbathon

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10

Where: Fort Mill Branch YMCA - 857 Promenade Walk in Fort Mill (Baxter Village)

Tickets are $10 for both YMCA members and nonmembers. Proceeds will equally benefit both NothingPink and the YMCA’s annual campaign, which provides financial assistance and program support to those in need.

More information: nothingpink.org

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