Team V Making Strides: Walk to Fight Against Breast Cancer


Christina Neppl

Team V pictured at the Making Strides of Boston before walking.

Lauren Carlo '18, Contributing Writer

When you’re in your 20s, the last thing you’re thinking about is freezing your eggs and receiving both mastectomy and reconstruction surgery on the same day. WHS Alum Vanessa Clemons ’12 was getting out of the shower one day and doing her usual self-breast exam when she discovered a lump in her breast. In March of 2021, she was diagnosed with HER2 Positive Invasive Mammary Carcinoma Breast Cancer.

Shortly after the diagnosis, beginning in early April, she started treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. Clemons has completed weekly chemotherapy for three months, received mastectomy surgery as well as began reconstruction surgery. She also gets antibody infusion treatment every three weeks for the next 39 weeks, and undergoes radiation Monday through Friday for five weeks. She’s only 27.

Making Strides is an annual 2 or 5 mile walk throughout the country organized by the American Cancer Society in honor of those who are fighting against, in memory of, or a survivor of breast cancer. The organization “raises money to help the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking breast cancer research and provide patient services such as: free rides to chemo, free places to stay near treatment, and a live 24/7 cancer helpline.”

“Team V,” family and friends of more than 40 people, came together in Boston on Sunday, September 26 to walk, donate, and support Clemons. The team was created by Team Captain, Dawn Carlo, one of Clemons aunts.

“When my niece, Vanessa, was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wanted to do something that would make her smile and feel supported. So, I looked online for a local breast cancer walk and found Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Boston. I quickly formed a team and we raised over $12,000 for breast cancer research and programs,” Carlo said.

Out of the 315 teams registered, Team V was ranked fourth solely based on amazing donation total of $12,996.

Clemons expressed, “I am so grateful for the generous donations that my family has made. I would not have a success story if it weren’t for breast cancer research, so these contributions will directly give others the opportunity to survive and thrive. Research is the key to ending breast cancer.”

The team wore custom pink team shirts designed by Clemons, pink boas, tutus, etc.

Clemons shared, “I’ve never felt more loved and supported. There are more than 40 people participating in the walk in my honor. People who I haven’t seen in years have adjusted their schedules to prioritize participating in this walk. I am overwhelmed – in a good way!”

Note: Former WHS student Lauren Carlo ’18 wrote this article about her cousin Vanessa for her journalism class at Nichols College.