I walked in the Breast Cancer 3-Day because I could! I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2007 and spent last year going through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. I am the mother of three and a part-time law student. I somehow managed to continue to go to school throughout my treatment. (Now I wonder how in the world I was able to do it!) During my treatment, one of my friends from college asked if I would consider walking with her in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in August in 2008. I immediately said yes. I was so thankful to be able to participate in such a wonderful event. It is my greatest hope that the only reason my daughter will ever have to talk about breast cancer is to tell her mom’s story and not her own.
Kim on bottom row, second from the right
I just returned from the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and it was an amazing experience. It was everything that people had told me it would be… and more. There is a part of me that is reluctant to sit down and write about the experience because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do it justice. It is quite an amazing event, and I can say that if you have the opportunity to take part in a Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in your area, you should definitely do it!
The first day we walked along the North Shore of Lake Michigan, through the Chicago Botanic Garden, and then down Sheridan Road along the lake. We covered 21 miles that day and ended up at the end of the day at our camp site in Des Plaines. My sister had some trouble at the end of the first day, so she and I spent most of the first evening in the medical tent while she was hooked up to an IV. Once she was feeling better, we headed to our tent, thankful for the opportunity to lie down and rest.
Before we did, however, we took a shower. I would equate the joy of that shower to those that I took after each of my kids was born. It felt so good to be clean after a day of walking! The showers are contained in six 18-wheelers and are no more than a small cubicle with a thin curtain partially covering the opening. There are sinks with running water outside of the shower trucks, but other than that, the entire weekend was spent using porta-potties. Because you have to drink so much throughout the walk (to avoid an IV), you end up using them a LOT. We all found that after half a day, it doesn’t even bother you anymore.
Kim second from the left
By the second day, most of my teammates were developing blisters on their blisters, and we were all wishing for some home-cooked meals rather than grab-and-go snacks. I didn’t get any blisters the entire weekend, but we decided that was probably fair since I had cancer. The second day we walked through Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect and Prospect Heights. We encountered a few minutes of rain and some clouds in the morning, but other than that the weather was great all weekend. Saturday night I gave a speech after dinner as a representative survivor/walker, and then it was off to our tents again for another night of uncomfortable but welcome sleep.
On the third day we were taken into the Chicago city limits by bus. We walked south along the lake shore through Lincoln Park, south on Michigan Avenue, and then we ended at Soldier Field for the closing ceremony.
Kim on left
Despite poor sleep and aching feet, however, we had a fabulous weekend. I think that one of the best parts of the whole thing was the connections I made with so many people. It was wonderful to have the chance to spend that kind of time with my teammates. I am constantly amazed by the incredible women in my life, and spending three days with them just reinforced for me all the reasons I love them so much. I am humbled by the fact that they all came to walk with me, for various reasons, and I will never forget their generosity in doing so. I also connected with other walkers along the route and found that everyone has a story to tell about why they are there. I even ran into an old friend from high school unexpectedly, and we spent several miles catching up with one another. The crew and volunteers were also fabulous. They were all so kind and helpful and just as excited to be there as we were.
Kim at closing
I had such a great time. I wish I could walk next year. I know I won’t have time to train, but I am planning to crew for the walk next year. In fact, my husband and I have already registered to work on next year’s Chicago crew. Most of my teammates have said they want to either crew with us or walk again. It really is worth all the aches and pains!
Sources for more information on breast cancer
Cheryl Untermann: In honor of mom
Family support keeps Angela DiFiore running in her battle with breast cancer
Barbara Jo Kirshbaum: The million dollar walker who can’t walk away
Jen Hoffman: Not just alive but thriving despite being diagnosed with breast cancer
Laurie Alpers: Taking control of her health means taking control of her life