Members of the Pfohl family of Spotsylvania County did everything they could to stay positive—and hopeful—during the 11 years that Annette Pfohl battled a stubborn cancer that brought with it both mental and physical anguish.

They’re using the same strategy after her death.

Pfohl, 51, died Nov. 9, from Stage 3 cancer that started in her breast and spread throughout her body. Her husband, Cris, and sons, Kyle and Curtis, are preparing for their sixth annual Battling Cancer Race to raise money to cover the cost of medicine or treatments for other patients going through similar issues at the Mary Washington Regional Cancer Center.

The race will be held on Father’s Day, June 18, as it has been in the past, and will mark the first time without Annette Pfohl.

“With the recent passing of my mom, I have become more determined to give back to the cancer community,” said Kyle Pfohl, who was 17 when he came up with the idea of a local race.

On the race website, the family posted: “She would not want the race to stop because of her passing but would have wanted the community to continue supporting the local cancer patients.”

Kyle Pfohl says the event honors those who face the day-to-day struggles of cancers as well as those, like his mother, who have died. The race has raised more than $84,000 so far, and the Pfohls hope to top the $100,000 mark this year.

No doubt the Pfohls will recite Annette’s motto of “Never Giving Up Hope” as race day nears. She taught school for 27 years in Prince William County and a 2015 story in The Free Lance–Star detailed how she stayed mentally tough in the face of physical suffering. At that point, she’d had 95 chemotherapy treatments, been blasted with traditional radiation and high-powered proton beams 55 times and endured seven surgeries.

Still, she rarely took a day off from work, telling her students that if she could make it to school every day, so could they. Fellow teachers had to tell her to take time off to give herself a chance to recover.

“Annette is the epitome of a strong woman,” said Megan Paulson, a fellow teacher at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Woodbridge.

This year, the Battling Cancer Race is partnering with the Rappahannock Area YMCA, which will oversee funds raised by the race. The Lucky Road Run Shop in Fredericksburg will take care of packets for the runners and walkers and awards for the winners.

The race begins and ends in the parking lot of the Carl D. Silver Health Center and Moss Free Clinic, 1301 Sam Perry Blvd., Fredericksburg. More information is available at

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

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