My three-day journey for the cure

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dawn Crews-Seams
  • 512th Operations Group
My journey began in March, when I attended a meeting with several local women who planned to participate in the 2009 Philadelphia 3-Day, 60-Mile Breast Cancer Walk, benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization started 27 years ago, when Nancy Brinker promised her dying sister Susan G. Komen she would put an end to the shame, pain, fear and hopelessness caused by breast cancer. So, with a few friends, Ms. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in memory of her sister. This organization is now the world's largest source of non-profit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. 

Between March and October, the women I had met grew from a group of casual acquaintences to a team of sisters, all dedicated to raising funds for a breast cancer cure. We became the "Bippity Boppity Boobs," and; as a team, we raised $38,682.93. We trained, held fundraising events and planned to walk 60 miles to show our support of the women who were currently fighting the disease as well as those who have survived. 

While preparing for the walk, I was often asked who I was walking for; my response was always the same. I'm walking in memory of Terri, Toni and Brenda, who valiantly fought breast cancer but ultimately died of the disease. I'm also walking to honor women who fought and survived; women like Bonnie, Amy and my mother. However, having gone through the training, fundraising and the actual walk, I can now say I also walked for myself. My family history and age puts me at higher risk for the disease, and I know first-hand the anguish of waiting for mammogram and biopsy results.

For Columbus Day Weekend, we packed our duffle bags, laced up our sneakers and were ready to walk. Sadly, the weather didn't cooperate; because cold and wet weather changed our plans. The first two days of the walk were cancelled. I can't begin to explain how disappointed we all were. We had done the training and raised the money. We wanted to have the whole experience of walking 60 miles and sleeping in pink tents at camp. However, we were able to walk 14 miles on the third day. 

The weekend ended in a celebration of almost 4,000 walkers, staff and support crew who raised nearly $8 million for the fight against breast cancer at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. 

We were cheered on by local citizens who hailed us with candy, water and a lot of love and appreciation. Seeing people holding signs in memory of their sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and friends who died of breast cancer only made me more committed to the cause. 

According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Web site, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will occur among women in the United States during 2009. And, an estimated 40,170 women will die from breast cancer. About 1,910 men will be diagnosed, and 440 men will die of breast cancer in the U.S. this year. 

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close this month, I encourage all women to begin their own journey. Start by getting to know your family health history, talk to your health care provider about your risk factors and what you can do to reduce your risk. 

And, I invite you to join me and my "Bippity Boppity Boobs" sisters when we walk again in October 2010.