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Breast cancer survivors bond through participation in Komen events

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Maxine Fleury and Bonnie Kiss walk through life as the best of friends, but when they started their breast cancer journies, there were times they felt alone.

“I was diagnosed in 2013. I found out a week before my 47th birthday,” Fleury said.

That year, her daughter organized a team to take part in Komen Wisconsin’s yearly walk.

“It was very emotional, still is, because it meant the world to me,” Fleury said, tearing up at the memory.

Seeing the sea of women and men, all wearing pink and offering support inspired her to do more for Komen, and she immediately started volunteering.

“It's just so overwhelming and so inspiring,” she said. “You can't help but pick up the electricity and the charge from it.”

A few years later, in 2016, Bonnie Kiss got her breast cancer diagnosis.

“It was five days before Christmas and seven days before my 59th birthday,” Kiss recalled.

Kiss also found support and Fleury, when she volunteered for Komen Wisconsin. She said she had gotten such positive results from her cancer treatment, that she wanted to help others going through the same thing. Kiss and Fleury immediately felt a connection.

“You support each other, and you listen to each other and you encourage each other,” Fleury said.

Now, their friendship plays out like a photo album, each moment captured in a picture. In each one, they’re wearing pink and giving back to the community that supported them. Together, they’ve raised money by holding a cook-out at Sendik’s in Franklin, and they worked the Milwaukee Milkmen game as a fundraiser. Bonnie stood right by Maxine’s side as she threw out the first pitch.

“She claimed she had a baseball injury so she couldn't,” Fleury laughed, remembering the game.

They realized right away that they’re kindred spirits.

“Anything you can think of having done, you ask her, it's done,” Fleury said of Kiss. “And it's done well!”

The women even have survivor tattoos in the same place on their inner wrists, and a matching desire to give back.

“All I need to do is call her up and say, hey, you want to do this? And it's like, no thought into it, yes, I want to help,” Kiss said of Fleury.

Over the last few years, they’ve also gotten to know each other’s families.

“Oh, we have so much fun together. It's just a pleasure knowing her, and knowing her family. We've walked the last two walks together,” Kiss said.

Bonnie and Max both have teams in this year’s More Than Pink Walk. Bonnie’s is called Team Forever Grateful, and Maxine’s is called Despicable C, complete with pink minions, just like the movie. They’ve raised thousands of dollars to help men and women battling breast cancer, sharing a friendship and a purpose.

“To be able to help somebody get that treatment, is like the world,” Kiss said.

CBS 58 is a proud sponsor of the Komen More Than Pink Walk, presented by Kohl's. It will be held Sunday, September 22nd at Henry Maier Festival Park. For more information, just go to https://komenwisconsin.org/.

And we’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to nominate someone to be featured on Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, just send Natalie an email at nshepherd@cbs58.com.

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