Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blisters for Sisters

By the end of the day Sunday, I will have walked 235 miles for breast cancer and raised about $12,000. This weekend marks my 6th time participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC. This is a 2-day, 39.3 mile walk where participants are required to raise a minimum of $1,800. The first time I did the walk, I signed up to fill a philanthropic void I had since moving to DC. I had a friend who did the walk in Charlotte, NC, the year before, and she made it seem like a great experience.
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Since that first walk, this effort has become so much more to me. I formed some of my closest friendships with women I met on that first walk. I’ve walked next to survivors, women in the middle of their battle, and husbands who have lost their wives. I’ve heard their stories and that was enough to keep me going. I’ve also had kids since then, and the thought of my daughter ever facing breast cancer, or the thought of me facing it while my children are still young and need me is all I need to keep going.

My first five years, I was glad to say that no one in my family or circle of friends ever battled breast cancer, and I knocked on wood every time I thought or said that. Part of me thought if I kept doing this then my inner circle will be exempt from ever getting breast cancer at all … until now. Just 24 hours after I signed up for this year’s walk, I found out a cousin in her early 40s with two children began her battle. Around the same time, a close friend’s mother, whom I absolutely adore, began her battle. Cancer does not discriminate.

Because we see so many survivors, we forget that people are still dying from this disease. Many times it is not detected early enough. I know most of my readers are moms with young children. It is hard to make time to get a mammogram. Moms with young kids don’t go to the doctor. I get it. But, if you are 35—or younger if you have a family history—getting your baseline should be a priority. I did mine practically the day after I turned 35. I had 1-year-old twins at the time, and my only help was my working husband. You make time when it is something this important.

Raising money for the cause is important, and $12,000 can do quite a bit on a local level. But, what I hope to contribute—more than the donations—is awareness. If 2,000 women and men sporting pink t-shirts, boas, hats, and other garb, march around a city to remind a handful of women to get their mammogram, then count me in. And, if writing a blog about breast cancer awareness for a few hundred followers leads just one of you to get the mammogram you have been putting off, then it was definitely worth the last 6 years.

I don’t know most of you, but I’m guessing some of you know someone right now who is battling breast cancer. If you do, please provide that person’s name in the comments on this page or leave me a message on my Facebook page and I will add him/her to my prayer list, which I will wear pinned to the back of my shirt throughout the two days. I believe in mass prayer and mass positive thoughts, and I will be walking with 2,000 people and past supporters all over the DC area. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

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