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Sunday, Feb. 05, 2012

Olathe woman receives WIN for KC award

The Olathe News

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Monica Steiner’s battle with cancer — the one she calls her “Ironman journey” — began in May 2007. On that day, Steiner, an Olathe resident, was diagnosed with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma, a common form of breast cancer, at the age of 37.

Nearly five years later, Steiner stood on stage Friday at the 18th annual WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration at the Sheraton Crown Center. As the audience rose to its feet, Steiner accepted the DST Systems Adversity Award.

Turns out, that day back in 2007 was just the beginning. After enduring rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Steiner’s cancer would go into remission for nearly seven months. But soon after, she received another diagnosis.

“It metastasized all over,” Steiner said, “so I currently have tumors all over my lungs and down my spine.”

Steiner was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, and, in January 2010, doctors gave her 18 months to live.

Steiner had always been active. She would run and swim — and raise her two young children, Lance, now 8, and Lauren, 10. Steiner’s husband, Jay, was also a serious triathlete. He finished his first Hawaii Ironman in October. And the family’s connection to endurance sports sparked an idea.

Steiner noticed that millions of dollars are raised each year for cancer research, but just a small percentage is dedicated toward metastatic research.

“A lot of that," Steiner said, "is because we just don’t last long enough."

The Steiner family set forth a goal to raise $30,000 for metastatic research — a fundraiser dubbed “IronTeam” — in partnership with Danny Welch, a researcher and doctor at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. So far, Steiner said, they’ve raised $20,000.

“Every dollar stays here in Kansas City and is very judiciously spent on metastatic research,” Steiner said. “So that those of us with a stage-four diagnosis… can hopefully live with this as a chronic disease and not a death sentence.”

Kelly Pfannenstiel of Olathe was also honored on Friday, accepting the Hallmark Cards Outstanding Mentor Award. Pfannenstiel, who in July 2011 completed marathons on back-to-back weekends, mentors others as the president of the Kansas City Express, an area running and walking club for women.

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