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Monday, March 21, 2011

Fighting Cancer One Step At A Time

With apologies to Britney Spears, "Oops! I did it again." I signed up to walk in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in Albuquerque on May 1.

Cancer hasn't been a major problem in my family, but this cause has motivated me to get involved. I want to do something to try to stop this horrible disease that takes so many lives every year. My family has been lucky, but cancer can strike anybody at any time. I have friends and acquaintances who are cancer survivors, and I lost a friend to cancer. It also claimed my grandfather many years ago.

This event is but one in a series of ACS events in which I have participated. It started in 2003 when I did the 3-day, 60-mile Avon Walk against breast cancer in San Francisco. In 2005, a friend and I did the 2-day, 26-mile breast cancer walk. My involvement continued in 2008 with the Relay for Life, a 24-hour cancer walk. Last year, my daughter, dogs and I took part in the Albuquerque Bark for Life.

So this is a cause that means a great deal to me. I have given my time, my sweat, my energy, my feet and my money to the fight against cancer. Quite frankly, cancer scares me. It scares me because we never know who or when it will strike. It strikes kids as well as people in the prime of life. It strikes men and women, rich and poor alike. It strikes people of all races and nationalities.

Cancer also strikes dogs with far too high a frequency. I have lost two beloved dogs to cancer. Patches, my little terrier mix, died of pancreatic cancer in 1989. Gage, a golden retriever and my daughter's best friend, collapsed one day during a walk in January 2009. By that night, he was gone. He had shown no obvious symptoms until he collapsed, and his physical exam just three months prior was normal.

While this upcoming event focuses on breast cancer, advances in detecting and treating any kind of cancer ultimately help the fight against all cancers. I don't like asking people for money, but I make an exception when it comes to the battle against this horrible disease. I have recruited six other people from one of my Meetup groups to join me on this walk.

I had a scare last year when I noticed a lump on my neck. I went to an urgent care clinic, where I was told the lump was most likely a lipoma or fatty tumor. I made an appointment with my new primary care physician, who sent me to a specialist. Waiting to get that appointment, which took several days, was the most frightening thing I have experienced in a very long time. Finally I saw the specialist, who confirmed that the lump is indeed a lipoma. Nothing to worry about. What a relief!

I'm not asking for money for myself. All I am asking is that people consider making a donation of any amount to support the fight against cancer and to help people live to celebrate another birthday. If you can't walk with me in person, please become a 'virtual walker' by making a tax-deductible donation. Give up a Starbuck's coffee and donate to fight breast cancer. Every donation, regardless of amount, brings us that much closer to the day when the dreaded words "You have cancer" will no longer be part of our vocabulary.

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCFY11National?px=17558736&pg=personal&fr_id=34286