About 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. 

As one of those women diagnosed with cancer, Lorraine Pace, overcame the odds and has since become a trailblazer by inventing the nation’s first breast cancer map. The Long Island resident received top honors for her fight against the disease. 

Pace wasn’t discouraged after finding out about her breast cancer diagnosis in 1992. Her condition became fuel that ignited her mission to help others. It was a fight that began before she started treatment. 

With help from friends, family and government officials, she took a deep dive into investigating a possible link between her cancer diagnosis and the water supply in her West Islip neighborhood. 

She tested the water and noticed the white filter turned brown, a sign of contamination. Pace began documenting her findings on color posted notes. Each held detailed information about a breast cancer diagnosis in the area. The data compiled to the creation of her map, the first of its kind. She hopes that it can pinpoint environmental problems that may cause cancer.

Since then, her mission has become worldwide. Her crusade led to the signing of a bill, allowing the public access to find out cancer diagnoses through Department of Health websites all over the world. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the breast cancer cluster mapping project, the American Cancer society and Suffolk County officials gathered in Suffolk County to honor Pace for her advocacy work and announce the nation’s largest walk to end breast cancer.

Pace says the cancer came back after 17 years. She has also since dealt with three skin cancer diagnosis. But today, she is cancer free and says that early detection was key to her positive prognosis. She encourages women to get an annual mammogram.

“If you notice something is not right, schedule an appointment with your physician,” she said.

The Making strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is scheduled for Oct. 16 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Jones Beach.​