In 2015, Mary Chaudoin of Atlanta was 25 years old and described her life as close to perfect. She and her family had luckily experienced little struggle and loss. That all changed when her mom, Nontie, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. In the fall of 2015, a doctor confirmed Nontie had a quarter-sized lump in her breast. It was Stage 3 breast cancer.
“The fear is undeniable. The word ‘cancer’ carries so much weight,” said Mary. “When she did tell us, it was a moment of support coming from all of us to her. The gut reaction was immediate support… but also still a sense of fear.”
Mary describes her mom as a strong, generous woman – something that never waived during her diagnosis or treatment. “She’s always been the most selfless person in my life, never needing from us, but giving to us,” Mary said. However, cancer and the subsequent treatment reversed those roles when Mary and her family had to be the rock and foundation for Nontie.
Nontie opted for a rigorous, accelerated chemotherapy treatment, wanting to complete her treatment and regain her strength prior to a very important event – her son’s upcoming wedding. She was determined to dance her heart out during the mother-son dance.
Now, three years after her diagnosis, Nontie is cancer-free, but Mary is quick to tell you she is still fighting. “The battle physically can be over, but there is still a huge mental and emotional component that exists long after. There’s still such a mental and emotional battle that she’s fighting every day,” said Mary.
When Mary was interviewing for a position at Mizuno, details around Project Zero came up. Prior to that conversation, Mary was unaware of Mizuno’s corporate initiative that raised charitable funds for the disease her mother was then battling. The opportunity to work for a company and be a part of an initiative that supports breast cancer patients and survivors was a special opportunity for Mary both professionally and personally.
“My job allows me to pursue both of my passion points – team sports and breast cancer research,” said Mary. “I oversee team various sports products, and I get to be a part of Project Zero. It really means a lot to me.”
A partnership between Mizuno and Fleet Feet, Project Zero’s goal is to turn one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime to zero in eight. For the second year in a row, Project Zero will raise funds to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the largest non-profit organization in the world that funds breakthrough research for breast cancer treatments and prevention. This year, Mizuno has designed a special-edition BCRF running shoe for Project Zero where $10 dollars from each shoe will go directly toward funding BCRF’s life-saving research. The running shoes, along with other inspiring stories of survivors and supporters, are available at Fleet Feet stores nationwide or online at MizunoUSA.com/ProjectZero.
Share your story of inspiration or support using hashtag #projectzero.