SYCAMORE – The first time she came to Ladies’ Night Out in 2006, Jane McDougall had no hair.
She was undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.
The Sycamore resident said just being at the event, which raises funds to fight breast cancer in DeKalb County, helped give her strength to combat the disease.
McDougall now is a 12-year cancer survivor who never misses Ladies’ Night Out, held Thursday night in downtown Sycamore.
“This was so uplifting, just knowing so many people in my community were supporting me,” said McDougall, who was with her two daughters and three granddaughters. “Ladies’ Night Out brings the community together, and we love Sycamore because of it. It’s a tremendous benefit that all the money stays local, and it does make a difference. I’m very thankful and grateful for events like this that raise money to allow doctors to do the necessary research to find a cure.”
Hundreds of women, and a few men, lined the streets of downtown Sycamore to mingle with local nonprofit organizations and vendors, all of who were donating a portion of the evening’s proceeds to Ladies’ Night Out, which splits 100 percent of the funds among the Kishwaukee YMCA’s Livestrong program, Northwestern Medicine Hospice at Kishwaukee Hospital and Kishwaukee Hospital’s Cancer Center.
Sycamore resident Dawn Sukach founded Ladies’ Night Out 14 years ago as a way to raise money and awareness of breast cancer after her mother was diagnosed with the disease.
It’s grown into a much-anticipated annual event for women all over the area who come with friends and family to support cancer research while enjoying a night on the town.
Sukach said Ladies’ Night Out raised more than $14,000 last year, and was hoping for more this year.
“All of this money stays in the community we live and work in. It affects people you live with and work with every day,” she said. “This is personal. I started this to honor my mom and those who didn’t make it. It’s nice to hear patients and survivors thank me for doing this. It makes me feel good.”
Money raised from Ladies’ Night Out helps support Kishwaukee Cancer Center’s “Women Matter” program, which provides free mammograms for uninsured DeKalb County women between the ages 40 and 64. Jodi Diehl, nurse navigator at Kishwaukee Cancer Center, said the “Women Matter” program is critical in helping to find cancers early, when they’re more treatable.
“This is a great event, because it gets people talking about breast cancer, and reminds them to get their mammograms,” she said. “It’s a fun way to support those going through [cancer treatment], and it’s nice for me to see former patients who are now survivors.”
Patti Salazar of Sycamore has come to almost every Ladies’ Night Out. She said that her mother is a breast cancer survivor, so it’s important for her to support other women who are battling the disease.
“It’s such a great cause, and I love that the money stays local,” she said.
“I hope this helps make a difference.
I know there will be a cure, just hope I’m alive to see it.”
Salazar’s friend, Sherry Christensen of Sycamore, said she thinks it’s “marvelous” that the community comes out to support cancer patients.
“I’m happy to donate money and buy raffle tickets. To have fun and help someone at the same time is the best,” she said.
Jim Melton has lost many friends to cancer recently, and the Sycamore resident said he “would never miss” Ladies’ Night Out.
“We need to keep supporting cancer patients and let people know that there is help out there,” he said.
Paula Schultz comes to Ladies’ Night Out with friends every year, and she said they always “make an evening” of the event.
“We like to donate to a good cause. Cancer touches each of us somehow, and we can also support local businesses,” she said. “We always have fun. It’s nice to get out and see a town full of people supporting a cure for cancer.”