Racing for Jane

Saturday was a different day for the Thunder family, but as extraordinary as it was, it wasn't surprising.

More than 100 Thunder staff, coaches and family members gathered just a few blocks from our main business office for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. In usual Thunder style, our team came with matching T-shirts and unmatched spirit.

We've taken part in the Race for the Cure before, but never like this.

In previous years, the Thunder has put together a team to support this cause, but we all participated for different reasons. Some of us had friends or family affected by breast cancer; some just wanted to get in a good run for a great cause.

This year, however, we all walked for one reason. Her name is Jane Stanford.

It was only a few months ago when Jane came into the office and broke to us her devastating news. She'd have to take off for
a while; she was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It was the end of the season, and … I had not had a mammogram in a couple years," Jane said. She had her mammogram, but then needed another, then a biopsy – and then she waited for an answer.

The doctor told her husband the news – Jane didn't want to hear it if it was bad news. When he found out, "my husband came in and he said, 'Honey, we have some work to do.'"

Though there was only a small chance Jane's cancer had spread, she elected to have a double mastectomy. She wasn't taking any chances.

Since her diagnosis and surgery, Jane knows she's had support from her Thunder family. What she may not have realized is how much she was missed when she was facing down cancer. What she may still not know is that a day didn't go by when someone didn't ask a colleague, "How's Jane?"

What she may not have fully known is how much she is loved – but, after Saturday, she knows.

Jane, who works in our Guest Relations department, has a way of filling up a room. Small in stature, big in spirit, she makes herself known wherever she goes. Through a blinding humility her humor shines, and whether you're a fan at a Thunder game or a coworker at your desk, Jane will put a smile on your face.

"I think I'm the oldest person that works here, but my maturity level is that of about a 25-year-old, so I fit in perfectly," Jane laughed.

Saturday was no different than any other day with Jane, except the smiles were bigger as we celebrated our colleague who had courageously fought breast cancer … and won.

"If I had not had the support of my Thunder coworkers, I would not be where I am today emotionally," she said. "The support was just tremendous, and it just made the healing process … go by so quickly."

Jane is special to us, and her fight brought out the best in the Thunder family. The unity and support that came from this celebration of Jane's victorious fight was extraordinary, but not surprising. It's why the Thunder calls itself a family.

"This is one of the happiest days of my life, and I never would have experienced this if I had not experienced breast cancer," Jane said at the end of the race on Saturday.

"I'm so blessed and I’m so humbled by the love of everyone in this company," she added.

We want to tell Jane's story in part because it is a story we all share, but also because the Thunder is one of millions of families who have gone through the turmoil of breast cancer.

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in 2010, there were more than 1.6 million new cases of breast cancer worldwide. A 2004 state task force estimated that more than 250,000 women living in Oklahoma in 2000 would develop breast cancer during the course of their lives.

Each person making up those numbers has a story. It may not be a story just like Jane's, but most are similar in that they are about love and uncertainty, about hope and courage, and about living with the effects of breast cancer – no matter how good or bad those effects are.

More than 100 of the Thunder family walked or ran, but about 18,000 more people from throughout Oklahoma walked and ran alongside us. Millions more across the nation will run, walk, wear pink, make a donation or otherwise show their support this month for curing breast cancer.

The Thunder will continue to support this cause, and so will Jane.

"I'm just so glad … that we can raise money for breast cancer because it's a terrible disease, it affects almost everyone and we need to find a cure. And we will."

To find out more about how to help find a cure for breast cancer and help the millions who are battling or will battle this disease, go to http://www.komencentralwesternok.org/.