Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I Walk

Jen with her daughters
Today's guest post come from Jen. I met Jen on twitter last year, after writing about why I walked in the Avon Walk. Jen also walks (though not in Chicago) and we hit it off right away! Jen is a mother to two girls, she likes to craft and she's very passionate about her baseball! You can read her blog, Raising Nats Fans, or follow her on twitter!

Why I Walk
by Jen

I’ve posted bits and pieces of why I walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer every year. Why I skip … hop … walk … trudge … plod 39.3 miles year after year. All those verbs – because on different legs of that journey I have varying levels of energy.

Her first walk in 2010
Confession: it started out of spite. I picked up the flyer about the walk in the fall of 2009. It was a tough time in my life. And someone saw it and said “you would NEVER do that.” I’m a Jersey girl, and a part Irish one at that. The gauntlet was thrown and I embraced the challenge. I needed an outlet for some energy and some emotion, and I found it in a place I could focus my training with a specific goal in mind.

I hadn’t intended to do it after the first year. Until I started the fundraising, and I got so many comments along with my donations.

“Donating in memory of my wife.” I hadn’t known that was how he’d lost his wife.  
“Giving in honor of my mom.” I hadn’t known her mom was battling.
I’d mostly thought my world wasn’t touched by breast cancer at all. One of my dearest friends lost her mother-in-law after a several year battle, but that was all I had known. Donation after donation rolled in, with personal story after personal story. These people were friends of mine, and friends of my family. Co workers, and friends of friends, and EVERYONE had a personal reason for giving. And I had no idea.

Finish line in 2012
How had I not known? Why don’t we talk about it? I have two little girls, and I walk so that someday they won’t have to walk. They know the breast cancer ribbon and the significance of pink. And they talk about the effort the Avon Walk makes in the local community. “Mom, we know you walk so that some ladies who need help in Washington can get the help they need. We want to walk with you when we are old enough.” And I want them to follow through – to walk with me. But more than that, I want a world without breast cancer. So they don’t even have to walk. So they can throw their efforts behind another cause that they believe in.

I picked the Avon Walk at first because it was convenient. (As convenient as 39 miles can be. HA!) And because I needed the challenge. I needed to prove to myself that I could push to the limit and see the reward of the finish line. Along the way, I found that it does exactly what we need. It reaches out to inner city families. To folks who could not otherwise get the care they so desperately need. To women who need help with meals – with creating normal for their families as they fight to live another day.

At the 2013 walk
And to fund research at institutions locally – so that the survivors aren’t just surviving, but are thriving in their lives. Not just plodding through the days, though there will be days like that, but embracing the glory of another day to celebrate life beyond cancer.

5 years later, spite is long gone. I’m emotionally recovered from the need to walk for reasons of self healing. I am thankful for grace that has allowed me to begin again.  I am still walking – we’re at 156 official miles logged and counting. I now walk for all the women who are fighting every day. My aunt. My classmate. My friend’s mom. My friend. I hardly feel old enough to say “my friend has breast cancer”. But that’s reality. I am 37 and my friend is battling. The more years I walk, the more people I know that are impacted. I walk to reverse the trend. So that as the years go by, I know fewer people who have breast cancer turning their lives upside down.  

PS To read more about my connections to brave survivors, click over here and here.  And to read the journey of the 2013 walk, including the 248,000 PB&J graham cracker sandwiches, you can see that here.

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