Fifteen years ago this month, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While our family was in the hospital, waiting for my mom to come out of her lumpectomy, I saw a full-page ad in the New York Times for a three-day breast cancer walk sponsored by Avon, to take place in New York City in August of 1999. Feeling completely terrified and helpless, I decided to sign up, as a way to channel my energy and do my part to eradicate breast cancer. The 60-mile walk, which I completed with my college roommate Lori, was one of the most physically challenging experiences of my life. (Three main reasons: chafing, blisters, and sleeping in a tent.) It was also one of the most moving. By the time I crossed the finish line in Central Park, my mother was waiting for me--along with my three sisters, my father, and lots of other loved ones--having successfully completed her chemo and radiation. She has been in remission long enough to be considered cured of breast cancer.
The walk I completed has taken many forms over the years, with different sponsors, different lengths, and different names, and there are many similar fundraisers out there. (My sister went on to work for one of the biggest and has been there for 10 years.) If you know someone who's participated, or you've partaken yourself, you know how rewarding it can be. A few weeks ago I saw a commercial on TV for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer that brought me right back to that frigid day in January when I was motivated enough to register for the walk. It also showed me how much good has come of these events--and how vital they still are to ensuring that money is raised for breast-cancer research and programs. The Avon Walk alone has helped the Avon Foundation fund more than 3 million mammograms and award more than 2,450 grants for breast cancer research, clinical care, and support services.
There are eight two-day, 39-mile walks in 2014:
Houston, April 12-13
Washington, D.C., May 2-3
Chicago, May 31-June 1
Boston, May 17-18
San Francisco, July 13-14
Santa Barbara, September 6-7
New York City, October 18-19
Charlotte, October 25-26
Do you know someone battling breast cancer right now? I promise that joining a walk is an effective way to reduce your fear, redirect your stress, and make a difference.
If you're daunted by the thought of a 39-mile walk, know that the event provides a training plan and coaches to get you in shape. Or you can download our "New To Exercise" plan, complete with a day-by-day schedule.