Saturday, July 13, 2013

In It to End It

As you may have heard, I'm once again going to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. My team and I did last year's walk in Santa Barbara and signed up for this year's walk just as soon as we crawled across the finish line. This year, we're walking in San Francisco--because we needed more of a challenge than 39.3 miles over 2 days, and I hear there are hills in San Francisco. So that should be fun.
Once again, I'll be doing the walk (and training for it) while going through treatment for the disease we're raising money to end. I will wake up at 5 in the morning to lace up my sneakers and walk a dozen miles (or more) before the temperature in Phoenix reaches triple digits. My hips will ache, my feet will hurt, and I'm sure I'll want to quit more than once. I might even lose a toenail or two again.

But this is important to me, and I'm okay with a few bruises, aches, and pains. I've been through worse.

We are still losing too many people to this disease--most of them your moms, sisters, aunts, and daughters. Breast cancer gets the unfortunate label of the "good" cancer to get. There is the misguided perception that everyone beats breast cancer. Pink is a happy color, after all.

But breast cancer kills almost 40,000 women in the United States alone every year. Let that sink in a minute.

In their lifetime, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. A whopping thirty percent of those will metastasize, at which point this disease is no longer considered curable. This is what I have--metastatic breast cancer.

I may respond well to chemo, may knock cancer down to undetectable levels over and over again, may even get to see remission, but I will likely always have to take medicine to keep this disease at bay. I will have to get full body scans every three months for the rest of my life to make sure the cancer hasn't stopped responding to my current medication. I will have blood drawn every week, scars across my chest where my breasts used to be, and a couple of wigs standing by...just in case.

I will always be more aware of my mortality than most 34-year-olds.

Another friend of mine--a mom to two little girls--called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that her breast cancer is back, in her lungs, after she was initially diagnosed with early stage cancer and had already completed chemo, radiation, and surgery. I hate this disease so much.

We just want to be around to watch our children grow up.

So I will do my little part to advance research into stopping cancer in its tracks. I will train my butt off (and my toenails, too) if it means some doctor in some lab might get the funds he or she needs to figure out how to derail this disease once and for all. I will shamelessly beg you all to donate to this cause.
At least forty thousand women each year deserve this commitment my team and I are making. Their families deserve it. Quinn deserves it. I'm pretty certain I deserve it, too.

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