life in the granite state
At the finish line of the 2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the
Cure with my mom and sister
I turn 30 years old this summer. I'm not freaking out about it. 30 is the new 20, haven't you heard? I've heard your 30s are better than your 20s anyhow. 30 doesn't scare me. Cancer does, though.
For my mom, her 30s brought some of the worst health she's lived through. At 37, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In my eyes, it can't get much worse than cancer. I'm grateful that I can say this was some of the worst health she's lived through. She had a mastectomy and came out on top. In 1995, my mom watched her first-born graduate from high school, and earn her degree in education in 1999. In 2000, I crossed the stage to receive my high school diploma and my mom was there. Likewise in 2004 when I earned my degree in journalism and my brother collected his high school diploma. And she was there in 2008 when her youngest child picked up his degree in business. 
For 23 years, we've shared birthdays and holidays, arguments and blow out fights, achievements and some not so proud moments with our mom, but no matter what, she's been there every day of our lives. We know that could have been abruptly stolen from us in 1987. 
We were lucky and we know this.
We know that others are not as lucky. These moments are stolen from families on a daily basis. 
In 2008, a friend of mine e-mailed to say she was putting together a team for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure and did I want to join. I'd considered walking before, but the fundraising figure and the thought of doing it alone held me back. In 2008, I shoved aside my fear of raising then $2,200 and walking 60 miles and said yes. I knew it was something I wanted to do, with barely a moment's hesitation. I would walk in honor of my mom. 
I raised the money, it wasn't easy, but I did it. Or, I should say, I did most of it. I went into my first 3-Day a few hundred shy of my minimum fundraising requirement, then $2,200, with plans for a fundraising push in the month you have after the walk to get any last donations in. But when I crossed that finish line the first year I walked, my mom and sister were waiting for me with a poster bearing the names of all the people they contacted while I was walking to help push me over the top. It was amazing and touching and emotional at the end of such an inspirational and emotionally-charged event. I don't think they've ever realized how much that meant to me.
I decided in 2008 that I was committed to helping find a cure for breast cancer. 
I want our future generations to never have know that breast cancer exists without also knowing there is a cure. I encountered along this 60-mile route, women and men walking for their sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, grandmothers, aunts and friends and even for their brothers, fathers, sons and uncles. I talked to women who'd lost their moms, a man who lost his wife AND daughter, and women who were going for chemo treatments just days before and after this event, among many others.
The enormity of the 3-Day was suddenly apparent. Research costs loads of money. Awareness is as important as ever. Education is needed everyday because this disease is not static. It changes as we change. Sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on. And sometimes a little dancing and singing through the streets of Boston is exactly what the soul needs (and the dancing sometimes helps make the soles feel a little better, too!)

Sarah, Stef and I at the end of the
2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.
Last year, I walked with my best friend, Sarah. We walked in honor of my mom and in honor of our friend Stefanie's mom who was in the trenches battling a second round with breast cancer after having been cancer-free for 14 years. 
There was a period of time just before the walk that Stef's mom, Barbara, landed in the hospital fighting a serious infection. Sarah and I were preparing to possibly be walking in memory of Barbara, but she pulled through. 
Stef met us at the finish line of the 3-Day and tearfully thanked us for what we were doing.
On March 29, 2011, Barbara, sadly, lost her battle. She raised an amazing daughter, one I'm lucky to call a friend. This year, I'm walking in memory of Barbara. And of course, in honor of my mom.
60 miles in three days isn't a walk in the park, though we walk through the parks, that's for sure. And along streets, over bridges and through neighborhoods. It's long, and it's hard, and sometimes, you have to remind yourself, when your feet are throbbing with 10 miles to go on Day 2 and another full day of walking after that, that you are there because of the people who cannot be. We walk with friends and strangers, sisters, mothers and daughters, brothers and fathers, husbands and wives. We walk with our own intentions, but we're all walking toward the same purpose, the same goal, and really, we all walk for everyone. 
I walk for those moms and sisters, aunts and friends, brothers, fathers, uncles, grandparents. I walk for people I've never met because I've heard their stories and I've cried with their family and friends. I walk for the father raising three kids alone because his wife, their mother, died of breast cancer last year. And for the women who lost her sister and her best friend to the same disease. I walk for our future generations, for my future kids, so that they don't have to.
I walk for myself so that by the time I'm 37, the 3-Day for the Cure is no longer necessary.

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