Mother’s Day “The Race” Holds Special Meaning for Breast Cancer Survivor and Her Students

Jessica Garrod

Students from Jessica Garrod’s second-grade class share 22 reasons why “Cancer Can’t” stop the ones they love.

When Jessica Garrod was just 22 years old, her mother – who was battling breast cancer – told her to check for suspicious lumps. Jessica found one and learned that she too had breast cancer. Soon, mother and daughter were going to their doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy treatments together at University Hospitals.

Sadly, Jessica’s mother, Becky Garrod, passed away after a courageous battle. Jessica still fights the disease, but she credits her mom with saving her life. “She told me to start checking myself for lumps,” says Jessica. “Had she not been diagnosed, I don’t think I would have been checking myself at such a young age.”

On Mother’s Day, Jessica, now 33, shared a heartfelt message about courage, hope and motherly love with supporters at The Race, the annual one-mile walk/run at Beachwood’s Legacy Village that benefits breast cancer research, treatment and education. The Race has raised approximately $850,000 over the last 11 years. Proceeds from this year’s event go directly to UH Seidman Cancer Center.

Jessica, a second-grade teacher, recently led her students at McKinley Elementary School in Lisbon, Ohio, in a lesson about resilience. She asked them to create a list of things that cancer can’t do. Together, they created an illustrated book called “Cancer Can’t.” The book’s message is empowering: You may not always be able to control or change the things that happen in life, but you can change how you look at the things that do happen.

To make a donation to The Race, visit

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