@ avonwalks You will find, as you look back on your life, that the moments that stand out
are the moments when you have done things for others.” – Henry Drummond
Five years ago I was trying to figure out what I could do to make a difference. I’m a stay-at-home mom stretched too thin most days. I wanted to do something that would make my children proud. I wanted them to know their mother tried to make a difference in the world. I wanted them to remember me for more than just yelling at them to pick up their dirty socks, to brush their teeth, & to eat their vegetables.
I kept seeing commercials for the Breast Cancer walks. I did not think I could really walk 40-60 miles or raise $2000+, but I decided to give it a try. My grandmother died from breast cancer when I was 8 and my Aunt had been a survivor going on 5 years. I chose to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in all honesty because it was one less day & 20 less miles than Susan G. Komen.
This year will be my 4th time participating in the Chicago walk with my team, Girls Gone Miles. The only year I haven’t walked was 2010, because I was pregnant with my youngest. If you’ve ever thought about doing this DO IT! You won’t be sorry. It’s an inspirational, uplifting, life changing event. Plus the road crew is Ahh-Mazing. Even though the sweat, tears, & blisters I’ve never had so much fun!
The worst part about walking is fundraising. You are required to raise $1800 to participate. ( $2300 for Komen, another + for Avon) I Hate asking people for money. I mean I totally and completely detest it. It sucks. Even if it’s for a good cause, even if it’s tax-deductible, I don’t like it. I’m sure my facebook friends don’t like it either. I am a facebook fundraising whore. Every year my friends & family really come through for me and for the Avon Foundation. And most of them are still friends with me despite my desperate begging.
If you’ve never personally known anyone touched by breast cancer you are very lucky. 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer. Quick think of 8 women you know, which one will be affected? Will it be your best friend, mother, or daughter? Maybe it will be you? Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women right now, and the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55.
Last year my friend & neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her early 40’s with two young children at home she never thought cancer would happen to her. From March through November her life consisted of biopsies, tests, oncologists, nurses, doctors, chemotherapy, a mastectomy, losing her hair, reconstructive surgery and so much more. Fear that she wouldn’t see her children grown up, fear of losing her life, fear …. In the face of that fear she is one of the bravest women I have had the pleasure to know. She fought through the fear to hope. With everything she was going through she was the first person to offer a smile, a kind word, or an offer of help to those around her.
I was so overcome with emotion last year when she surprised me at the finish line. I saw her as I came up the sidewalk in front of Soldier Field sitting in her wheel chair next to my oldest daughter. It was an honor to walk for her last year and it is an honor to walk for her again this year. Please look past my crazy looking hair. Showering in a Semi-truck, sleeping in a tent, & a pony tail giving me a headache made my look for the day “crazy lady on the street, mumbling to herself”.
My hope is that one day her daughters, my daughters, your daughters will never have to hear the words, “you have cancer”.
If you’d like to learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women or the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer go to Avonwalk.org.
The Avon Foundation Breast Health Outreach Program received $5.85 million to continue supporting 120 community-based groups across the country — programs which navigated more than 125,000 people into mammography screening and clinical breast exams in 2011 and reached a half million people with critical education and information.
CancerCare received $1 million to continue providing direct financial assistance to low-income breast cancer patients, reaching women and men in 85% of all U.S. counties and all 50 states.
Safety Net Hospitals and Support Programs: In 2011, $10.8 million was provided to 75 safety net hospitals and support programs in and beyond Avon Walk cities. Funds support upgrading equipment in breast health centers, “patient navigator” staff, nutrition programs and meals, and other support services. Navigators help women and men secure appointments and financial resources for care if low-income or uninsured. For those diagnosed with cancer, navigators help patients navigate the complex medical maze — from pathology, to surgery, to oncology, and radiation therapy — and ultimately help patients achieve survival by receiving timely and quality care.
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation received $500,000 to support the Love/Avon Army of Women. The Army of Women is changing the way that breast cancer research is conducted – significantly reducing the time it takes to recruit research study volunteers and encouraging researchers to study the changes happening in healthy women before breast cancer develops to learn how to prevent it.
Accelerating Research Progress: $13.7 million provided to support breast cancer research across the country in 2011, with a focus on understanding the causes of breast cancer and developing new ways to prevent the disease. Funds support 43 projects at universities across the country in addition to research conducted at eight Avon Centers of Excellence for Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care and Research. Funded research projects include:
• examining role of the environment in breast cancer
• asking “could a virus cause breast cancer”
• developing new blood or urine tests to assess changes in healthy breast over time to assess risk of breast cancer
• new understanding of the causes of breast cancer, risk of the disease, and steps one could take to reduce risk
• developing new treatments for metastatic, triple-negative, inflammatory and other hard to treat breast cancers
My kids look forward to the Walk every year now. Last year was the first time they were able to come to the closing ceremony at Soldier Field. It was so fantastic to have them witness an event like this.