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ANCHORAGE - Iditarod musher and breast cancer survivor DeeDee Jonrowe says her mother is facing her own battle against the disease.
Jonrowe told the Anchorage Daily News that her 81-year-old mother, Peg Stout, has been scheduled for a double mastectomy by March 15.
Jonrowe had a double mastectomy after her cancer diagnosis in 2002.
"I wish I could just throw a blanket around her and make it not be true," Jonrowe said. "The next best thing is knowing how to be able to help her."
Jonrowe still plans to run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which begins with the ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage and restart Sunday in Willow. Her mother wants her to race, Jonrowe said.
"Dad feels it would signal the wrong thing to Mom if I didn't go," Jonrowe said.
She twice placed second in the 1,000-mile race. She estimated the first time she may be able to call home is in White Mountain, 77 miles from the finish line in Nome.
"Hopefully I can do well enough that I can give Mom something to look forward to every day, besides another medical procedure," Jonrowe said.
Like her daughter, Peg Stout has beaten cancer before - when Jonrowe was an Iditarod rookie 30 years ago this month.
"That was uterine cancer," Stout said. "I saw her off on Fourth Avenue and was in the hospital for a few days."
Jonrowe's father is former East Anchorage Assemblyman Ken Stout. Peg is a retired Anchorage school librarian and, Jonrowe said, a 30-year Iditarod volunteer.
Peg Stout said the family officially learned of her diagnosis days ago. They decided DeeDee would still compete while her younger sister, Linda, would fly from Oregon to help out with Mom and Dad.
"I think it's easier on me than it is for them," Peg said. "Because they feel, they feel kind of helpless. And I do too, but I know how I feel ... and right now, of course, I feel OK."
Jonrowe is one of the most popular figures in dog mushing, with her silhouette appearing on a commemorative Alaska statehood stamp.
She has become a fundraiser and spokeswoman for cancer awareness, often wearing a signature pink kuspuk as a tribute to breast cancer prevention.
This year she bought her dogs 2,000 pink booties to match the team's harnesses and coats.