Walking the Walk: The Avon 3-Day

About nine years ago, a friend encouraged me to walk the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk with her. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t sure I could raise that much money, and I wasn’t sure I could walk 60 miles in three days. But that year, the Chicago 3-Day was taking place in June. That June, in 2001, I would be celebrating five years of being cancer free. Five years! That is a wonderful milestone to reach when you are a cancer survivor. And so I decided to walk the 3-Day, from Kenosha, Wisconsin down to Montrose Harbor in Chicago.

It took a lot of training and a lot of fund raising, but it was also one of the best experiences in my life. This is one of the scrapbook pages I made of the event:

These pictures were taken at the end of the first day of walking, which had been 18 miles. We were hot and tired. The first thing we wanted to do was take a shower. The showers were in huge semi-trailer trucks. We had to wait in line with a lot of other tired walkers. I felt like I was back in college again, waiting in the dorm bathroom for a shower to be available.

We spent the night in a “tent city,” which was set up in a local high school field. The tents were back to back, row after row. We could hear a woman in a different tent snoring that night. (And once I got to sleep, I’m sure someone else heard me snoring, too.)

On the last day of the walk, I was given a pink T-shirt to wear as a breast cancer survivor. Survivors were to walk to the finish first, to be recognized by the crowd and to be closer to the closing ceremony. That meant I had to leave my walking partner behind. In hindsight, I should have dragged her along with me! For the last mile of that walk, I cried my eyes out. Women were coming up to me and asking me if I was okay. I remember thinking that in the middle of that crowd, I felt so alone. Every single survivor was older than me. Why? I kept thinking. Why was I so young? I was afraid that someone would take a look at me and ask me to prove that I had actually had had breast cancer.

That year, five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I was 32 years old.

This year, I have read so many blogs – too many blogs – about women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of them are in their 30’s or 40’s. Being a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer doesn’t seem to be so rare anymore. Why? Why are we getting breast cancer at such a young age?

I know in my case, I have a very strong family history of breast cancer. Before she died, my mom was genetically tested for the breast cancer genes that researchers know about. She tested negative. However, there is so much about genetics that we don’t know, it is still probable that the women in my family are genetically prone to breast cancer.

In 2011, I will be cancer-free for 15 years. Another huge milestone. The Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day has now become the 2-Day, and I’m thinking about walking the walk. But I’m ten years older and I have two little girls. I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge. I’m still on the fence about signing up.

Memories by Christine 
Before I started this blog, I used to scrapbook. (See the above scrapbook page!) I just loved it, and I want to start scrapbooking again.  Christine’s Scrap Party takes place every week, and this just may be the right motivation for me to start scrapbooking again…blogging about it! For scrapbooking ideas, click Christine’s button.

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8 Replies to “Walking the Walk: The Avon 3-Day”

  1. WOW! What an incredible experience for you. Kenosha to Chicago is a long way- I've driven that path many, many times, and I can't imagine walking it! Great job with your page, and thank you for linking up!Love,C:)

  2. Wow–I am just impressed by your overall strength…whether you chose to walk this time or not, you are such an incredible person. Thank you for sharing…from one spring chicken to another.

  3. I was proud of you then…and I will be proud of you when you finish the 2-Day next year. Your daughters will be there at the finish to cheer you on!Ed

  4. I've had trouble with 12 miles in one day, let alone 60 miles in three days! Perhaps it's not that more young women get the disease, but more young women are testing (themselves) and find out earlier which improves their chance of recovery.

  5. I applaud your efforts to raise money in the fight against breast cancer. Cancer (in many of its myriad forms) has affected my family far too many times. In fact, we just lost a loved one to cancer yesterday.That being said, I'm actually going to recommend NOT doing the Avon 2-Day. Something happened when it went from being 3 days to 2 days. The organizers of the 2-day, well, aren't organized. I say this as someone who completed the Avon 2-Day and volunteered for it. Perhaps you and I should talk before you make your final decision–the stories are too long to explain in this comment box.As an alternative, I would recommend doing any event for the American Cancer Society. I ran the Chicago Marathon as an ACS charity runner in 2003 and then again for the Chicago Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon last year. They'll support any "endurance" event you want (walk, run, bike), even something as short as the 8K Shamrock Shuffle downtown in March. I've had a great experience every time I raised money for the American Cancer Society.Or perhaps you want to consider the Susan G. Komen 3-day? I haven't walked that one yet, but it goes through our neighborhood! :)Thanks for all you do to raise breast cancer awareness!

  6. Your story is so inspiring, so awesome. Thank you for sharing about your 3-day experience and linking up today. I didn't know it switched to a two day event. But I think you could definitely do it! I could maybe be talked into doing it, too … 🙂

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