BEDFORD, N.Y. -- A Bedford surgeon and a Somers breast cancer survivor are participating in a three-day bike ride to raise funds for breast cancer.
Dr. Michael Koch, a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction, will be participating in the Tour de Pink, with one of his patients, Jamie Pleva, as they bike ride from King of Prussia, Pa., to Washington, D.C., Sept. 27-29 for the Young Survival Coalition, which helps younger women afflicted with breast cancer.
Pleva was diagnosed at age 28 when she went in to see if she had the BRCA1 gene, while her sister was battling breast cancer.
She went through six months and 18 rounds of chemotherapy, eventually getting breast reconstruction surgery from Dr. Koch. Her sister succumbed to the disease.
While many people say a diagnosis or a scare makes them appreciate life more, Pleva and her sister took a different approach.
"Cancer gets credit for nothing in life," Pleva said. "I knew I had a great family and amazing friends. It made me want to help people more."
This is Pleva's fourth year doing the bike ride and she has the event circled on her calendar, often participating with her husband, sisters and other family events.
"It's an awesome event," Pleva said. "I really look forward to it. I can't wait for the weekend, meeting survivors, people in the medical field and just offering my support."
Earlier this year, Angelina Jolie made headlines when she penned an op-ed in the New York Times after undergoing a preventive double mastectomy when she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. Actress Christina Applegate and TV host Giuliana Rancic have also been open about their struggles with breast cancer.
"I was doing it before Angelina Jolie, I made it way cooler before she did it," Pleva joked. "But it has helped women seeing people so open and honest and sharing this painful moment.. We appreciate it and it means a lot."
Over the last five years, Koch said he has seen an increase in younger women getting screened for the BRCA gene.
"Angelina Jolie took the discussion to another level," Koch said. "Women saw her experience and are motivated to do screenings."
Koch, who has offices in Tarrytown and Cortlandt, said his mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, one of the reasons he participates in the event.
"It's a very positive experience," Koch said. "It's a great camaraderie with a nice energy. It's a lot of fun to participate and it really brings people together."