"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."
We still live in a world where friends and family hear words like "summation artifact" and "abnormal mass" and the far-from-immortal "I'm sorry to tell you this." We still live in a world with breast cancer and I find this unacceptable. I find it unacceptable that each month, my friends and loved ones perform their monthly exams knowing that they could find something that could scare the hell out of them.
I find it even more unacceptable that other friends and loved ones do not perform monthly checks because they're scared of what they might find.
Every year that I do the Walk, someone asks me why I'm there. I don't have breast cancer in my family tree in any direction. I do, however, have a dream of the future. I want to be (much) older and sitting around after some family event. I want to be kicked back in my comfy chair, talking to my grandchildren or equivalents about the old days. I want to remember a dear friend to them and tear up when I think about the memory of how they were taken from me so suddenly. I want -- so badly I want -- to hear one of my grandkids ask me "But why did they get breast cancer? Why wouldn't they just get the shot? Doesn't everyone get it?" I want breast cancer to be looked at the same way that polio and mumps are today... a terrible disease from a bygone era. I want it gone in my lifetime.
And every time I tell that story, it catches in my throat. Every. Single. Time.
You. That's right, you. You can help make it go away.
I do what I do for this cause because breast cancer kills people. I'll say it again. Breast cancer kills people. It's killed my friends. It's killed my extended family. It's forever changed the lives of scores of people I know and care about. And worst of all... in nearly every case, were the cancer detected in time, it could have been mitigated. It might have even been stopped in its tracks.
Some other cancers are making huge strides, and other cancers are not. I had an up-close look at one of the former in 2011-2012 when my partner, Mara, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma - and then (with the help of her oncologist & team) kicked cancer's ass. We need to bring breast (and all of the other) cancers into this category as well. A few days before posting this (late May 2016), one of my dear friends celebrated 13 years of something else. She celebrated 13 years of being breast-cancer free. She's one of the success stories that I love to think about, most especially when I remember the friends who didn't.
Every single year, I hope to make it through "another year" without anyone I know dying, being diagnosed, or losing a loved one to breast cancer. Since I started doing this, I've only had a very few years where that has been the case.
Fight Like a Girl
Check yourself. Check your partner. Get your friends and family to check themselves. Get out and make sure that nobody dies from ignorance. Don't be silent. Don't be complacent. Get out and walk. Get out and crew. Get out and cheer. Get out and volunteer. And if you can't take an active role, then please consider donating towards someone who can. Someone like me. Someone like my Team Wench teammate(s). Anyone who is putting themselves out there to make a difference.
Don't just sit there. Do something. Do anything. But don't let another person's life get cut short by this disease.
You can help. You may not think you can, but you really can. No amount, no matter how big of small is wasted. If you can afford $20, donate that. If you can afford $100, donate that. If you can afford $1000 (or even more), donate that. The exact amount that comes from one individual is irrelevant until a cure is discovered. Then we can all say it was "enough." You can make a donation to my fundraising campaign right here on the website by clicking on the "Donate Now" button to the right. If you prefer to write a check, click on the "Donate by Mail" button instead. If you would like to donate more than you can donate at the moment, the Avon Foundation will happily set up a monthly donation for you. Again, just click the "Donate Now" link for more information on how to set that up. As I prepare for this year's event, I plan to update this page as well as my social media platforms so that all my supporters can follow my progress, so please visit often. While you're here, you might want to spend some time on the site to find out more information on why this event is so important, and the organizations and people that will be helped by the money we all raise.
Thanks again for your support!
Over the past twelve years of trying, you folks (not me -- YOU!) have generously donated over $64,000 (plus the amount shown on the right) towards my various goals. This link (http://bcfunds.lhhf.org/) will show you the year-by-year breakdown. 2012 was the 10th anniversary of the Avon Walk -- which is why I decided to do my tenth walk then (even though I'd only been involved for nine calendar years). Someone even pointed out that, as of the 2013 DC Walk, I'd (you'd!!) raised $100 a week... for eleven years. After a year or two of lower-than-my-normal donations, that's slipped a bit, but there's no time like the present to sway the statistics back again! :)
2017 marks my forteenth year, my fifteenth Avon event, and I'm as committed as ever!
More than a dozen years ago, I met a woman at a DC area sci-fi convention. She had gorgeous red hair, an attitude that was piercing and fun, and was a lot of fun to flirt with. I remember meeting her downtown for lunch one day -- and getting my first exposure to the cuisine known as "mongolian grill." Through her, I met another couple of folks and through them even more. I went to my first (only) two Pennsic Wars with this intrepid band of Drunken Badgers. In May of 2007 (the week before that year's Avon Walk), Rise was taken from us after her battle with inflammatory breast cancer (http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/inflammatory-breast-cancer).
Another part of my life was enriched tremendously during the late '90s when I met Bobby (another redhead!). She was fiery and passionate and caring and was such a force of will that the first time I met her, I knew that my dear friends Nybor and Elspeth had perfectly chosen someone to join their lives. Then suddenly in 2004 (the week before Team Wench's Privateer Feast), she was gone -- yet another victim to breast cancer.
Large slices of my life have been enriched by the simple meeting of these women with the gorgeous red hair and the attitude... these ladies whom I miss so much.
In addition to these women who I miss dearly, I also rejoice in the knowledge of those who are still fighting. Every day I think of these friends (yes, especially you, L!) who have taken what this disease has to dish out and are still fighting. Thank you for fighting. Thank you for continuing to fight and to support my fight.
When I first began training for my first walk, back in the fall of 2003, I didn't know anyone first-hand with breast cancer (or at least I didn't know that I knew anyone). I was a freak then. Now I'm a statistic. Don't let more of our friends and family become statistics.