On a Monday in April almost 12 years ago, Terri Reiff received the worst news of her life. She had breast cancer.
"Once you hear that 'C word,' you never want to hear it again," she said.
The mammogram Reiff had a month earlier had not detected the pea-sized lump in her left breast. But because she was so vigilant with her monthly breast self-exams, the cancer was found early enough to successfully treat.
"I just had a feeling it was something that I needed to go get checked out," said Reiff, who was 40 at the time.
Reiff said she had a complete mastectomy and reconstructive surgery one week after diagnosis. About two months later she began radiation and chemotherapy, which took about a year.
So when her boss at Powerhouse Gym in Bluffton suggested years later that they do something unique to raise awareness of breast cancer, Reiff was honored to take on the initiative.
Reiff, the gym's general manager, ordered three pink treadmills that were delivered to the facility at the beginning of January. The gym pledged to donate 10 cents for every mile walked on the machines to someone suffering from breast cancer here in the Lowcountry.
Reiff doesn't know who that person is yet, but she said she's sure there is someone out there struggling with the disease and trying to make ends meet. Gym staff will determine at a later date who will get the money. At the end of September or beginning of October, gym staff will add up the miles on the treadmills and write a check in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Over the past two months or so, Reiff said gym members have walked more than 2,200 miles on the three machines. She said there are some people who actually wait for the pink treadmills if they are in use. She added that gym members who have been affected by breast cancer are the ones who make a point to walk on the pink machines rather than one of the other 20 in the gym.
"When they leave they say, 'Hey, I walked for you today,'" she said. "It just puts a smile on my face."
Reiff has reason to be happy. With seven months to go, gym members will continue to raise money for a local breast cancer victim -- one mile and one dime at a time.