The call was an unwelcome reminder. Crazy as it sounds, it is easy to take a 60-mile, three-day walk to fight breast cancer for granted. After all, I completed 11 walks, and the survivors I know continue to thrive.
Then I received the call. A friend I have known for 40 years called to tell me she has breast cancer. Once again, cancer has shown it is not done yet.
I started this journey with a similar call. Living in San Diego at the time, my mom called to tell me my sister, Terry, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt so helpless. Up to that point, I did not personally know anyone with breast cancer. Now cancer had become very personal.
The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk first took place in my home city of San Diego in 2003. I signed up to walk what would become the first of many. I had not planned beyond the first. Then I met teammates, three of whom were breast cancer survivors. I heard all the stories, shared over three days of hills, laughter and tears. How could I walk away? Cancer was not done yet.
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I moved to Boise in 2009 but continue to go back to San Diego every year to participate in another 60-mile walk. When I go back, I take vacation time the week before the walk and stay with my longtime friend, Linda.
Linda has generously contributed every year to the funds I need to raise to participate. She showers my teammates and me with small gifts, including our favorite pink bling lanyards that hold our credentials for the walk. We did not plan for her to participate in this very personal way. Linda was not supposed to get breast cancer.
That’s the nature of cancer. Just when you think you have it beat, cancer proves it is not done yet. Cancer becomes very personal. As I celebrate each year my sister and teammates are cancer-free, I must now add Linda’s name to those I wear on the walk . They include names of those battling this disease, survivors and those who sadly lost the battle.
Complacency about another walk is gone. The donning of pink is more than a fashion statement. Once again, the reason this 60-something woman walks is made painfully clear. Cancer is not done yet, and neither am I.
Cathy Miller is a freelance business writer. You can follow her 60-mile journey at Why60Miles.com.