Connie Browning adopted her golden retriever, Nikki, about four months before she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in June 2007.
"She would just be at my side, like, 'Mom, I'm here. Let's go lay down, let's take a nap. Old movie? Come on,' " Browning said. "She was my therapy dog."
The disease taught Browning, on leave from her position as president of AT&T Ohio, to allow that assistance. "As an executive and a woman, I think you tend to do things on your own and say, 'It's OK, I got this,' " she said. "But it's good for me, and it's good for my family and my friends. They wanted something to do."
Since finishing her radiation treatments in October of that year, Browning constantly thinks about the women who don't have access to the care that saved her life. And she wanted something to do. In July, she joined the board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Columbus.
She had participated in Komen Race for the Cure as part of her "passion for women's issues" in the '90s, and is humbled to know the efforts of volunteers helped save her life. Now, each year, she and her husband push their granddaughters in strollers at the race.
This year's local race is at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (May 16) in Downtown Columbus.
She's also helping plan the second annual Livestrong race, to be held in Columbus in October; sewing quilts for breast cancer patients with the Stitching Sisters; and fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Plus, she keeps active as a bike rider, runner and yogi.
" 'It's never too late to make your life better from this point forward,' " said Browning, quoting her Westerville Community Center yoga instructor. "I found strength in that."
For more information on the race, visit www.komencolumbus.org.