By Dave Schwab
Joe Koors and Penny Shipley were among several thousand people who passed through La Jolla Friday on a 60-mile, three-day trek from Del Mar to downtown San Diego in the annual Susan G. Komen Walk For the Cure against breast cancer which raised more than $9 million.
Their story was particularly poignant as it involved a personal close call with the dreaded disease.
“On Cinco de Mayo 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through the whole process — chemotherapy, losing my hair, etc. — and I realized just how many people are actually affected by this disease,” said Shipley, noting 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lives.
During her year-plus ordeal, Joe said Penny made 97 trips to the hospital for everything from surgery, to tests to treatment.
In a conference call, Shipley acknowledged that number, noting she was one of the lucky ones.
“I lived in La Jolla and was going to Scripps Hospital,” she said. “A lot of people had to come from as far away as El Centro, and it was a day-long adventure for them to come here for one treatment.”
Joe and Penny are both Realtors at Coldwell Banker La Jolla and business partners as well as being partners in life. They partnered to get her through breast cancer treatment, and then again afterwards this year in conjunction with Verdes El Ranchero Restaurant at 7404 La Jolla Blvd. where Joe works part-time, to raise money for the battle against cancer.
“Since summer we sold $2 pink margaritas and all the money went to the cause, 60 local businesses joined in, and we raised $5,000 with a big auction and raffle on a recent weekend night,” said Joe, who promised to dye his hair pink if they met their $10,000 fundraising goal.
By the time the walk started, they had raised $12,000.
“I dyed my hair completely pink, not just tinged,” said Joe.
Penny said money raised by the Komen event will be used for equipment and scientific research. But just as important, it will be used to promote cancer awareness.
“Every woman needs to go to the doctor and have a checkup; you just never know,” she said. “I was a super healthy person — I never imagined it would be me.”
Joe said he felt good about participating in the Komen movement. He said people banding together to support a good cause, that’s what helps everybody get through tough times.
“It’s positive energy, good spirit,” he noted. “You need to have a good attitude.”
Fighting for a cancer cure isn’t just about the victims, but about their loved ones too. “People forget how hard it is on the other person, like Joe, who had to go through all this with me losing my hair, wondering if I was going to live,” said Penny. “That’s why he and I are involved, so no one else ever has to go through that.”