And as far as the eye could see, people were lined up to cross the bridge in downtown Nashville, Tennessee one crispy day in October 2008. The crowd was full of young women, children, fathers, brothers, older women, disabled individuals in wheelchairs, and even babies in strollers. Everyone walked with a purpose to their steps; to make a statement, they want a cure for breast cancer.
This year was a record-breaking number, 15,000 walkers! Cheerleaders were lining the streets as the masses walked towards LP Field to begin the historic American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer annual walk. Even the young high school cheerleaders seemed to understand the importance of this walk as they yelled encouraging words to everyone passing by. Their voices were loud and clear. They were yelling as if we were a team fighting for a victory. We were.
Each step of this walk represented the battle a woman or man must face when diagnosed with breast cancer. As I crossed the bridge, being a breast cancer survivor myself, I could not help but be reminded of the bridges I had to cross to get to the other side of recovery, to be called “a survivor.” I was blessed to be here, walking, when so many others had fallen from this disease and were no longer with us. They were not given the chance to walk.
On this day, all around me, periodically, through the five-mile walk, I would hear some grumbling about sore feet and sore backs. Many were asking repeatedly, “How much further until we reach the end?” It reminded me of the countless times I had asked my husband during treatment, “How much longer before this is over?” With each grumbling, I would laugh to myself enjoying the air, the noise and the sounds of live around me. I knew the pain of sore feet was nothing compared to a broken spirit when dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. I knew those that had passed from this horrible disease were watching, from the best seat in heaven that day, urging all of us on. They knew this walk was a divine one with a purpose.
I recognized many survivors on this walk. I did not know them all personally, but I could sense who they were. They held their heads high, their stance proud and their lips could hardly conceal a smile. They were proud; they were happy. These women were the ones who wondered if they would ever be okay enough to make this walk. They were like me; fighters who had fought the tough battle of breast cancer. They were now using their energy to fight for others.
The money raised this year in Nashville from this event was well over $600,000. The team I was a part of, Make Some Noise, contributed over $5,000 to that total. We knew the mission of the walk was not complete without funds raised to help support further research. We need a cure and to do that, we need the money to find it.
Please take a step towards making that happen. Find a way to help support research for a cure for breast cancer. This is not a pink issue, an issue that only affects women. It affects us all. Take a step with me.
Stand tall, be proud, and care.