AKRON, OH (WOIO) - This Saturday, Al Ciraldo will be at Akron’s Komen Race for the Cure for the 19th year.
The team he puts together, called Ciraldo’s Crusaders, honors the memory of Ciraldo’s wife, Debbie, who died in 2001 of breast cancer.
It was a devastating blow for Dr. Ciraldo, who performs surgeries related to breast cancer. He says it was incredibly difficult to watch his wife suffering with the disease he knew so much about, but couldn’t cure.
"No matter what you know or can do, there's certain things you can't do, you can't beat. It teaches you a really harsh life lesson," said Dr. Ciraldo.
Debbie, a mother to four young children, was battling Stage 4 of a very aggressive kind of cancer, but she remained optimistic, Dr. Ciraldo says.
After receiving intensive treatment, her scans came back cancer-free. At that point, the couple began attending the Race for the Cure with a group of friends.
However, they got more bad news just three years later, when they found out the cancer had returned. Debbie died two years later.
"I mean, it's good to find things early, obviously, but you need a cure for the forms of cancer she had, the more aggressive kind." said Dr. Ciraldo.
He says that is partly why he remains so committed to recruiting team members for the Race for the Cure. He wants to see more research done to find that cure. His team, Ciraldo's Crusaders, is directly responsible for over 400 recruits and $10,000 to regional race offices, according to local officials. He says he does it, because it's what his wife would want.
"There's no doubt she would have done it on her own," said Dr. Ciraldo. "I'm glad I was able to keep that going."
This year, he says he hopes he sees more survivors there, along with their families at the Race for the Cure. He wants them to receive an important message, and he believes they can get it there.
“Realize you’re not alone, that you’re in this fight together.”