Looking back, I have been able to attend the 2007, ’09 and ’11 Bloomington Breast Cancer Walk. Other years I was traveling during this week in October and unfortunately couldn’t make it. It is something that is near and dear to my heart in many ways. I began promoting this year’s walk in my office, to my friends and on facebook (to reach out the masses) a few weeks ago.
I called Colleen one day after work and asked her if she would walk with me. She and her husband, Josh’s groomsman Grant, just had Pete over to introduce him to Maggie and Brooke and it was a success. This is a pet friendly walk and so I thought it would be fun for her to bring their puppy. I told Colleen that this is my Mom’s 5th year celebration of beating breast cancer and she let me know that it was her mom’s 10th year! I found it incredibly amazing that I reached out to Colleen and she had a huge celebration too! http://www.siraonline.com/walk.htm
So, among 1000+ others, we had a beautiful October Saturday morning in downtown Bloomington. The beginning ceremony is a great way for survivors to celebrate and announce their name, where they are from and how long they are a survivor. Everyone is so upbeat, happy and enthusiastic. We had a common goal and that was to raise money and spread the word of early detection and prevention. They even made a song for this particular walk! Maggie and Pete made lots of friends and got tons of attention!
I am always amazed by the smiling women who have turned something so horrible into a positive experience in their lives. They make it their mission to lead healthy lives, tell their story, spread awareness and how it made them a better person. I never attended a walk where I didn’t shed a few tears, or a bunch, thinking about my mom’s experience. She was very lucky and was able to have surgery right away but still underwent chemo and radiation. The most important thing we could do was remain positive through the entire experience. As she will tell you and like most things in life, no matter what, I made it my mission to be positive.
At the walk, I did get choked up the most when I walked past a woman about my age. She was with her husband and twin babies. Her name tag read “In memory of my Mama”. I smiled at her as my eyes began to fill and couldn’t imagine what this walk meant to her and her family. Another woman announced that she has been a survivor for 6 years and survivor of ovarian cancer for 4 1/2 years. Another woman announced that she is a 34 year survivor and another young woman just since February. We all have our own stories and it is nice to share in such an open, positive way.
Now, we all know October isn’t just about wearing PINK! We need to educate ourselves and our loved ones. This isn’t something to take lightly- I mean, they designated a month to this!
We don’t know what causes cancer but modern medicine and research has told us a lot. Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women. In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. The most important thing we can do is make ourselves aware, make healthy lifestyle choices and check yourself monthly. I have educated myself on prevention and make it a huge part of my life to eat right, make good choices and exercise almost every day.
We are all so busy and try our best to balance work, home, family, school, and all of the other priorities in our lives but remember that taking care of yourself and your health is the most important thing you can so because no one else can do that for you. If you attend to yourself first, then you are emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually available to your loved ones.
I am no expert and can’t offer advice on actually preventing, but as I have emphasized I think we can all do our part- educate, read and care for ourselves. Most importantly, we must know to do self checks and go to the Doctor at least yearly for your exam. Remind your sisters, cousins, aunts, mothers, friends, grandmothers, neighbors, coworkers- anyone you love. I am trying right now… 😉
The Susan G. Komen website is the best I have found. I know you all support in one way or another and please share your stories or comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
I love you all.