MANHATTAN (PIX11) — A sea of pink filled Central Park Sunday for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Around 40,000 people took part in the 4-mile walk, including Deanne Gonsalves.

She participated last year and was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer a month later.

”I went last year to walk with someone having no idea I was a cancer patient,” Gonsalves said. “I had a double mastectomy in January and just had my exchange surgery two weeks ago.”

This year, Gonsalves walked with a large support group that included coworkers, friends, and her neighbor Diane Cohen.

Cohen and her sister Susan Beil are both breast cancer survivors as well. They say seeing all the people supporting the cause is incredibly moving. 

“It’s really, really important,” said Cohen.

“It’s a constant battle. You get tested all the time, and you pray every six, three months that you’re good to go,” Beil said.

The walk in Central Park is in its 30th year but is one of around 150 happening across the county, including several others in our area.

Organizers said the death rate from breast cancer has dropped by 42% from 1989 to 2019, and the goal is to find a cure. 

“A large part of that is the cause of screening prevention. Get your screening working with your doctor and primary care physician. Screening is such a big part, and with October being breast cancer awareness, it’s so important to get your mammography,” said the New York City director of development for the American Cancer Society, Austin Desavino. 

The Central Park Walk alone has raised more than $15 million in the last 10 years alone for patient services, research and advocacy.

Kristine Keating said every penny counts. Nine years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and says this walk is significant to her family. 

“It’s empowering. It’s solidarity. It’s a day to feel some relief. We’re all here working hard, but we’re having some fun,” Keating said.

These survivors want everyone to know early detection is key. They encourage everyone to get their mammograms as often as necessary.