After completing treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis in 1999, I became involved as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
In addition, I began participating in Making Strides walks. They used to be held only near Grant Park in Chicago, but now also are scattered throughout the suburbs, making it very convenient to participate.
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First and foremost, I walk for my family. I walk for my sons, Justin and Lukas, who were 11 and 7 at the time of my diagnosis.
It was very frightening for me to be diagnosed at such a young age with two young children. They had just lost two grandfathers to cancer so I couldn't even say the "C" word to them at first.
The only thing I wanted was to be able to see them grow up and have families of their own. They ended up being my strength and inspiration to fight. I think, in a way, my cancer diagnosis helped make them the men they are today.
I also walk for my husband, Tom, who was there with me every step of the way, giving me love and encouragement and staying strong for the family. I couldn't have gotten through it all without him.
I walk for the young women I knew who lost their battles to breast cancer and left behind young families. I walk for Ann, Diana, Anne and Cindy, to name a few. All of you were so courageous and fought until your last breath. I miss you and will continue to do what I can to support a cure for this awful disease. You should be here to see your children grow up.
I walk for the American Cancer Society, so that it may continue to have the funds to support research and all the patient services available for cancer patients and their caregivers.
I walk to support early detection, as it is so important with younger and younger women being diagnosed. I walk in support of, hopefully, one day, a cure.
Cancer has touched so many lives and so many people. I am very blessed to be a survivor, thus far, and to have had the opportunity to give back. My fight will continue as I give thanks to God for every day.