Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How I Came to Do the Komen 3-Day

It was the summer – July maybe - of 2004. I was a year and a half finished with chemo for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a month or so removed from walking in the National Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Washington, DC. This was a 5K event in a cold rain, and it was amazing to see the thousands and thousands of people walking and running for the cause of bringing attention to breast cancer. It had been emotional seeing the many of the women in pink shirts, each of them a survivor of this terrible disease.

On that July Day driving in my car, I heard an advertisement about the “Komen 3-Day,” and I later looked it up. Wow! A three day walk to raise money to fight breast cancer and help out those suffering from this disease. Camping out as a group. Walking about sixty miles! It sounded pretty amazing. My sister-in-law Christine was a breast cancer survivor. Plus I knew several more – the number keeps growing annually - women who had survived, or succumbed to, breast cancer. “I should do this walk someday,” I said to myself. The fundraising sounded difficult but doable.

Then, I got involved with Team in Training. The Anchorage Marathon in 2005. The San Diego Marathon in 2006. Mentoring in 2007. The Arizona Marathon in 2008. How could I simultaneously fundraise for the Komen 3-Day while doing Team in Training? But I thought about it every year. And there was a sad milestone for my marathon in Arizona in 2008 – for the first time, my sister Ann’s name was on my race shirt. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year before. I needed to do the Komen 3-Day in honor of Ann some year.

Time marched on. The Country Music Half Marathon in 2009. My sister was now in remission. But that remission ended near the end of the year. I ran the Seattle Half Marathon for TNT in June of 2010. I had now raised over $50,000 for LLS in my five Team in Training events, and I went into 2011 thinking I would do TNT again. After all, a very dear friend died from multiple myeloma, one of the blood cancers, just days into the New Year. But after a lot of soul searching and some conversations, and seeing my sister get weaker and weaker as each month went by, I decided that this was the year to do the Komen 3-Day. I wanted my sister to know I was going to do this walk specifically in her honor. I didn’t think she would live to see me do it, but at least she would know I would do it. I think she was honored by this.

The five months since I signed up for the 3-Day have speeded by. I’ve not walked as much as I hoped to in order to prepare. But I have raised the money required to participate, and I will walk strong and proud, walking for those who cannot, racing for a cure once more. My sister is not here anymore, but she will be with me every step: in my memories of her and my love for her. Her battle is over, but that of tens of thousands of others of women – and some men - goes on. The money that people generously donated will help them, and those yet to be diagnosed or even born.

Seven years ago, I first got the idea to walk the 3-Day when I heard a chance advertisement on my car radio. In just a few days, I will make that happen. If you helped me get there in some way, thank you!

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