Sunday, April 29, 2001

N.Ky. mom beats cancer, inspires show of support

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They stood out in their orange T-shirts, ready to celebrate the energy generated by Jamie Hoffpauir — a mother, marathoner and survivor of breast cancer.

        These friends and family members of Mrs. Hoffpauir's huddled Saturday morning at Sawyer Point. They were preparing to walk the 5K Race for the Cure and raise $2,000 in her name.

        Mrs. Hoffpauir, 33, of Fort Thomas, was at Good Samaritan Hospital, recovering from a single mastectomy that was performed Friday.

[photo] Jamie Hoffpauir came home from the hospital Saturday to her husband, Todd; daughter, Madison, 4; and son, Jack, 3 weeks.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        She was released Saturday afternoon, when she returned home to her husband, Todd, and their two children: Madison, 4, and Jack, 3 weeks old.

        The aerobics instructor and licensed personal trainer was upbeat as she talked about the need to keep a positive attitude. She was touched by so many people exercising in her name.

        “I wanted to be there. But, on the same hand, I would have been a crying mess if I had been there,” Mrs. Hoffpauir said. “Todd and I have learned a lot about people (and) it's humbling.”

        On Saturday morning, her 80-plus supporters said they could feel her positive spirit in the air.

        “OK, everybody say "Hi' to Jamie,” said Mr. Hoffpauir, pointing a camcorder at the smiling group of adults and children.

        Jack, whom his dad calls “a miracle,” slept nearby in a baby carriage.

        “This is indicative of the support we've had since it all began,” Mr. Hoffpauir said. “It's been unbelievable. There's no money to repay people for what they've done.

        “If (Jamie) could be here, she would. Her whole life is about fitness. We're going to be a survivor of this.”

        More than 10,000 walked or ran in the 5K event, which raised money for breast cancer research. The event was one of at least 100 similar events taking place this year through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Dallas. The foundation is the nation's largest private financial supporter of breast cancer research.

        Saturday was the fourth Race for the Cure in Cincinnati. Last year's attendance was 11,000 and generated $325,750 for local breast cancer screening, awareness and treatment projects. An additional $100,000 went toward national research. This year's race is expected to generate the same amount.

        Mrs. Hoffpauir ran the San Diego Marathon in June 1998 and Cincinnati's first Flying Pig Marathon in 1999. She worked as a social worker before becoming a licensed personal trainer. She teaches aerobics and stationary bike classes at Mercy Healthplex in Anderson Township.

        She and her husband were riding high in December. Mrs. Hoffpauir had just received her personal training license and was pregnant with Jack. That was before she noticed a lump on her breast.

        She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. She was 22 weeks pregnant.

        “It was so surreal. Things were going so well and I couldn't believe it. At first, there was anger. But I felt I had to turn it around so quickly to "Now, what do I do?' and "How do I fix this?' My anger went away pretty quickly,” she said.

        Mrs. Hoffpauir soon began four rounds of chemotherapy. She kept exercising until a week before Jack's birth on April 6.

        “I always felt (that) as long as I'm moving forward and exercising and sweating, I can't possibly be sick,” she said.

        Friday's mastectomy removed Mrs. Hoffpauir's cancer. But she will undergo 10 more months of treatment, which will include radiation and more chemotherapy. The doctor plans to use a relatively new antibody drug, Herceptin, for the chemotherapy. It targets only cancer cells. Chills, fever, hair loss, mouth sores and low blood cell counts are possible side effects.

        “It's been devastating” to witness Mrs. Hoffpauir's battle against cancer, said friend Lisa Zinnecker, 35, of Mariemont. She works out with Mrs. Hoffpauir and has helped her train for marathons.

        When people called from Cincinnati and other states offering help, Mrs. Zinnecker asked them to participate in Saturday's 5K event.

        She also asked them to wear orange T-shirts. Orange is supposed to stimulate positive energy and that's something Mrs. Hoffpauir always has had in abundance, she said.

        “She's such an inspiration. She's a fighter. She's full of life and vitality. She helps so many people in her personal life, they (now) just want to help her,” agreed Candice Phillipps, Mrs. Hoffpauir's sister-in-law, also of Fort Thomas. (She is seven months pregnant but also walked in Saturday's event.)

        Mrs. Hoffpauir returns to work in June. To get back in shape, she will begin walking next week.

        “If I can just move and sweat and feel good, then everything's going to be OK,” she said.

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