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INTERVIEW: Tara Mahon And The 2020 Virtual Shelter Island 5K Run-Walk Held In Support Of The Fight Against Women’s Cancers

T.J. Clemente

Tara and her son Kole after they completed Ellen's Run/Walk this summer. (Courtesy Photo)

This year's Shelter Island 5K Run-Walk is being held virtually between Saturday, October 17 through Monday, October 26. There are many wonderful stories about the good deeds and the good people who participate in this run. The race helps raise awareness and funds to fight women's cancer via the North Fork Breast Health Coalition, The Coalition for Women's Cancers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and for Lucia's Angels.

One particular story in regards to this year's virtual run is that of Tara Mahon, a wife, a mother, and a breast cancer survivor. About the Shelter Island run, she said, "It's virtual this year, due to COVID. I will actually be walking it, I won't exactly be running it. I do it as a way to give back. My mother actually passed away from breast cancer in 1992, so in a way breast cancer has always been a part of my life."

Mahon, who grew up in Smithtown but now lives in Speonk, added, "I began my own journey last summer in July when I was diagnosed myself. Right when I was diagnosed, a friend of mine introduced me to Susie Barry Roden, President of the Coalition for Women's Cancer at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. Susie somehow just becomes a mom to you. She just takes you in and helps you, educates you, and just shares her knowledge and lets you know everything is going to be okay. She introduces you to other people and you just learn from others, from their journeys. You learn that you are not alone and there are resources available there to help you, and I have used them!"

Mahon's voice quivered with respect and honest thankfulness as she continued telling her story about her own personal journey through the minefields of a breast cancer diagnosis.

"Running this event and the other events is just a way to give back and to support the ones who are going through treatment and honor the ones who have been taken from us and to give a hurrah to the survivors - because we all have our own journey with this breast cancer. No matter if you are getting chemo or not. No matter what your course of action is, that you decide to do for yourself, you really are on your own journey."

This will be Mahon's first Shelter Island 5K Run-Walk as a participant. She did Ellen's Run this year and last year, along with the Long Island 2-Day 10K.

When asked about the specific help she received from the Stony Brook Southampton, the Coalition and Lucia's Angels, Mahon explained, "That's where I was diagnosed. Dr. Palermo diagnosed me with DCIS, a form of breast cancer. Lucia's Angels helped us go to our retreat that we go on once a year. They, along with the Coalition, helped us with our families, when we had to go to doctors appointments, treatments, they do fundraising to get gift cards for gas, for food or whatever we may need. They also make bags for us when you go and get diagnosed and you go to Susie saying I have been diagnosed. Susie gives you this bag of all these things that you are going to need. A calendar, a journal, pens, just stuff that people who have gone through what you are about to go through know you are going to need."

Then, in a touching moment, Mahon noted, "I have an amazing husband, Kristopher, he has beyond supported me - no matter what I decided to do. He knew I lost my mom at a young age, he understood and when I got diagnosed, it affected all of us, but he totally stepped up to the plate like he always has. It was he who said we are going to go to these appointments and we are going to get our information and we are going to be educated about this and then make decisions. I will be right here for whatever you decide to do. He has been a real rock. I am now cancer free."

To register for the 2020 Shelter Island 5K Run-Walk, visit www.shelterislandfall5k.com.

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