Other voices: Walk a mile (or 60) to help cure breast cancer
Sixty miles … one mile for each of my years. I had promised myself that some day I’d participate in the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s three-day, 60-mile walk benefiting breast cancer research. But a full teaching schedule and raising two children were my excuses. I didn’t have the time; I didn’t make the time. When I turned 60 last October, the timing seemed right. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I made the commitment and signed up, promising to raise the requisite $2,200. My walk, the last of 12 that are held in major cities throughout the U.S. each year, takes place in San Diego on Nov. 9-11.
I’ve always enjoyed walking, but now I am officially “in training.” I have extended my usual three miles a day to 12, and I’m enjoying my communion with nature and my neighbors on Scotts Flat Road.
We have definite seasons up here on the ridge, and although I prefer 70-degree sunshine, I walk in rain, hail, sleet and snow. I love to walk in the early morning as the sun rises. I wear no headphones, preferring the sounds of the forest awakening around me. Neighbors and other folks I don’t even know honk and wave as they pass by on their way to work.
I have become a familiar figure on the road in the evening, as well. My favorite time to walk is at 6 p.m. As the sun settles on the horizon, houses come to life. Lights blink on. Pleasant aromas of dinners on the stove and lit fireplaces drift through the twilight. The same folks greet me and perhaps wonder if I have spent the entire day walking on the road.
Indeed, sometimes it feels as though that’s all I do. But now I walk with a purpose. Breast cancer affects one out of eight women. I find these statistics frightening since, coincidentally, each circle of my closest friends numbers eight. Every other summer, eight of us college sorority sisters reunite. Each fall, seven of my former teaching colleagues join me for their annual visit to Nevada City. Which of us, I wonder, might be afflicted at some time in the future?
When I told my sister I had signed up for the 3-Day, she was surprised and asked, “Whatever possessed you?” I guess what possessed me was a desire to celebrate the lives of my Aunt Clare, who survived breast cancer; and her daughter, my cousin Margaret, who did not. I walk to support my friend Debbie who will undergo a double mastectomy on Nov. 6. I walk for a cure because I’m one of the lucky ones who can.
In 2008, two of the 12 3-Days will take place in California, in San Francisco and San Diego. Go to http://www.The3Day.org for more information. Then get out those walking shoes and join me in the fight against breast cancer.
Karen Brazas lives in Nevada City.
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