Business owner and breast cancer survivor Diana Sroka has a motto she stands by: "Live, laugh, love."
Over the last decade, Sroka has used those three words to help push herself through various challenges and obstacles in her life, whether it's her breast cancer diagnosis or the new businesses she and her husband started. Now, the Auburn woman will try to others through those very same challenges by organizing an October walk for the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY.
Diana was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2004.
“When it came I couldn’t believe that it actually happened to me,” she said.
Sroka decided right away to undergo a double mastectomy. She also completed six chemotherapy treatments and reconstruction. Her older sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer five years prior to Diana.
“It’s made me look at life a lot differently,” she said.
Eleven years after she was diagnosed, Sroka has devoted a lot of her time to giving back to those who have been recently diagnosed or are undergoing treatment.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful feeling to know that I could help someone else or make them aware, or know that it’s OK to talk about (breast cancer),” she said.
Sroka said she considers herself the “eyes and ears” for the people she is able to help by asking questions and listening to what the doctors have to say, similar to what her husband did for her when she was diagnosed.
Next month, she is looking to help the community on a larger scale.
Sroka, the owner of All Ways Concrete Pumping, has teamed up with the Weedsport Speedway to host a breast cancer walk at the end of October.
Being familiar with breast cancer walks after participating in the Susan G. Komen walk each year in Syracuse, she had an idea the kind of impact these types of events have on those diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as the survivors, she said.
“It seems like there’s so many people out there. ... Like there’s someone new everyday diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.
According to recent statistics from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2015.
Turn 4 a Cure, the roughly one-and-a-half mile walk, will take place Oct. 24 at the Weedsport Speedway. Proceeds will benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY.
Jim Phelps, general manager of the Weedsport Speedway, said that when All Ways Concrete Pumping approached them about the possibility of a walk, it seemed like the perfect partnership.
“The fact that the event should bring in a lot of people from outside the area and have the attention from the local fans, it’ll hopefully help drive the walk to be bigger and better and raise money for a good cause,” he said.
In addition to the pink flags and T-shirts that’ll line the speedway, a portion of the track barriers will be painted pink, and several of the All Ways Concrete Pumping pink and blue pump trucks will be in attendance.
Sroka said while the planning process has been exceedingly difficult and stressful, she is looking forward to the results of all of the hard work. She said she’s already had a number of donations from area businesses.
“People are responding very well. I’m surprised how willing people are to donate stuff,” she said.
Sroka said she hopes to see 1,000 walkers participate in the event this year and raise $25,000.
Diana and her husband, Ken, started All Ways Concrete Pumping in 2005 and their other business, Repair Plus, in 2009, after she completed her treatments. The two opened the Auburn office in 2011, and Diana took ownership in 2013.
“We decided it was time to go out on our own and do something for us,” she said. “It’s a huge responsibility, but not really anything that I’m not used to doing.”