Youngstown officer walks to fight breast cancer

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


One of Youngstown’s finest is looking for a few good men and women willing to walk 60 miles or volunteer a little time in the summer toward funding research for breast cancer.

Barbara Copeland, 56, is a veteran officer for the Youngstown Police Department and also a 16-year survivor of breast cancer. She will be walking in the Susan G. Komen three-day Walk for the Cure in Cleveland this August.

The Komen walk is an event in which thousands of women and men come together, walking 60 miles over the course of three days to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer. Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds raised by the Komen three-day walk help support national research and large public-health outreach programs. The remaining 25 percent supports local community and affiliate outreach programs.

Copeland has walked in more than a half-dozen fund-raising events for breast cancer, but this year, she is determined to include 10 people from the Youngstown area in her Cleveland entourage. She said those who cannot walk the entire 60 miles can volunteer to work at stations set up along the route.

The walk will take place Aug. 1-4 with an orientation Aug. 1 and the actual walk beginning the next day.

The pledge to walk is $2,300, but those who volunteer to help are required only to pay a registration fee. She said volunteers likely would be working at one of the pit stops along the walking route providing drinks, refreshments and other things to walkers.

“Everything you need is provided at the pit stops by the people volunteering,” she said. “It is really a rewarding experience.”

Copeland will be having a banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Brentford House on Myron Street in Hubbard with all proceeds going to cover the cost of her pledge to walk and registration for the volunteers going with her. Cost for the banquet is $35 per person.

Sarah Brown-Clark, Youngstown clerk of courts, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet. Copeland said Brown-Clark’s father died of breast cancer, and she will be there to educate people on the reality that men, too, are affected by breast cancer.

“I am trying to educate people, so however I can do that is how I am going to do that,” said Copeland.

According to the Susan B. Komen website, breast cancer in men is rare. Breast cancer in men, the website said, accounts for about 1 percent of all cases and there likely will be 2,240 new cases and 410 deaths in 2013.

Judge Robert Milich of Youngstown Municipal Court also will be honored at the banquet for his work in starting the veterans’ treatment court in the Youngstown court system.

Copeland was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 with a second occurrence the following year. She underwent a stem-cell transplant in 1998 and has been living cancer-free since that time.

“I am celebrating 15 years living cancer-free,” she said. “With the second occurrence, a lot of people thought I would not make it, so for me to be here 15 years later able to do this — it feels good. I feel blessed.”

Copeland has made it her personal mission to raise money for breast-cancer research but also to educate the public about the disease.

“I feel that I am here for a reason, and that is why I have to educate people and encourage people to go to the doctor,” she said. “If I can reach one person, then I have done what I am supposed to do, and that encourages me.”

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