Sunday, July 26, 2009

Roll Call!

For 8 weeks, 4 days per week, I have stepped out in an effort to prepare my body for the 60 miles that October 23-25 will bring.  I can feel my body changing in reaction to this training.  My legs are more muscular than they have been in years! I no longer cringe when the weekly training email announces that Thursday will be a 5-mile day. Sunday evening, I was on mile #4 before I even broke a sweat!  The folks who coordinate the 3-Day event have developed a formula to prepare us for the physical challenge of the Walk.  I am confident that in another 2.5 months, I will be ready and able to complete the challenge.  There is not a schedule, however, for the emotional training that this experience has brought to my life over the past 2 months.  

I made myself a promise when I decided that I would post a weekly blog that I would:  1.  Never complain about the training.  No matter how challenging the training may be, it is not even a fraction of the pain that breast cancer causes.  2.  I would share stories that would cause you all to look forward to my weekly updates. I would be witty and clever.  This blog is meant to be a positive and uplifting read. The challenge of this is that Breast Cancer is a monster that has affected many of my readers and I am inspired by all of your stories.  The things that you share with me through responses to my blog and our chats about my training inspire me to keep on keepin’ on.  If those stories inspire me, they may also inspire others.  This week I would like to share the stories of my inspirer-ers with you. While this may not be a 10 on the “witty and clever” scale, they help me stay focused on the purpose for my training and keep the pep in my step!

Many of you have made a donation to my fundraising efforts in honor of someone who has fought or is fighting Breast Cancer.  In the past 2 months, the names of your family and friends have flooded my inbox and accompanied your messages of encouragement.  The dozen women that inspired me to take my first steps have been joined by a long list of your loved ones.  I think of them every time I tie my shoes and hit the pavement.  I think it’s only right that I introduce them all to you as well. It’s time for a Roll Call!

The original inspirers:

Pat Munchick: Mother of my post-college roommate and wonderful friend, Jill.  Pat is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  Hearing Jill share her mom’s story pushed me to hit “send” on my 3-Day registration.

Mindy Sopher:  A former classmate and colleague at NCSU.  Mindy’s fight with breast cancer has been a long one.  She has had a positive attitude every step of the way and credits Mindy’s Angels for keeping her moving forward. She writes a wonderful blog about her journey at

Jan Ziegler:  Co-worker and confidante.  Jan is a member of the counseling staff at USC.  She spends every day helping others cope with their demons.  Last year she met and fought her own.  I am so proud of her and know that her “I will win!” attitude is what got her through. These days Jan is looking perky and peppy! 

Jean Henscheid:  Jean is a former staff member from the NRC who makes every conference a scream!  She is the gal you always want at your dinner table.  Breast cancer didn’t stand a chance against Jean!

Rafael Guerrieri:  “Auntie Rae” was my dad’s aunt; my grandmother’s sister.  She passed away from breast cancer in 1967.  My Aunt Joan wrote to me about her saying that “back then, women didn’t talk much about breasts.”  What would Auntie Rae think of my blog?  Joan remembers Rae as a genius with a photographic memory and feels that if she lived today, she may have survived because of our increased awareness of this disease. 

Jacqueline Brinkman:  Mother of Julianne Dunn.  Julianne is a friend of the Latino family and does my dad and I a wonderful service by accompanying my mom on her annual Disney pilgrimage.  I have joined them once…only once.  Hearing Julianne talk about her late mother and her battle with breast cancer is one of the things that first planted in my mind the idea of participating in the 3-Day.

Mary Simpson:  Mother of Gary Simpson.  Gary is the manager of the Disney store in Raleigh and a great friend of my mom. I get regular updates about her progress.  Mary has finished a round of treatment and is doing well.

Susan Caylor:  Another member of the Disney family, Susan’s daughter is Jennifer Maund, the district manager for my mom’s store.  Since Jennifer joined the Disney team, my mom has begun referring to me as “my Jennifer.” Like Mary, Susan is through with round 1 of treatment and is successfully fighting the fight.

Kay Yow:  I can’t remember when Kay Yow wasn’t battling breast cancer. Her fight brought my attention to this disease. There is nothing more inspiring than attending the Annual NCSU Hoops for Hope event and seeing the sea of pink in the packed Reynolds Coliseum.  

Those are the women who inspired me to begin this journey.  These are the women and men who inspire me to keep going. I have shared a small bit of their story here but would love to give them the attention they deserve.  Let’s put some faces with these names!  I invite you all to share stories of your loved ones including the battles that they have faced and their triumphs!

Helen Jones:  Mother of my fabulous friend, SaJo (Sara Jones). Helen wasn’t on my original list.  Her fight has begun very recently.  “Mama Helen” was chief of the prayer team for my mom when she was fighting a brain tumor and I am terribly sad that we are now returning the favor.  I am confident she is going to have great results from her first round of treatment.  Go Helen, Go!

John Barulich:  Friend of the Keup family.  “About 5 years ago, Mr. Barulich died of breast cancer. It was a very sad reminder that it isn't only a women's disease. In that instance, it was a man's disease and a family's fight against it. Although they lost that fight, I am hopeful that others won't have to because of what you are doing.”

Cathy Schachner: Friend of Jenny Bloom.

Becky Brown and Elaine Weaver: These are the mother’s of my friends Ella and John Weaver.  Ella’s mother, Becky, fought and beat Breast Cancer!  We wish her same strength to John’s mom, Elaine, who is currently in the battle.

Frances Swayze, Hazel Hopwood, & Dee Barron:  The grandmother, great aunt, and grandmother of my wonderful friend, and first donor, Amber Garrison.  The women in Amber’s family have faced the fight three times.  Amber is also a 3-Day walker and shares my passion for finding a cure. 

Judy Casey:  Friend of the Kolvick/Houston/Nazario family.  Judy is currently in chemo treatment and the Houston family made their donation in her name.

Susan MaGahee:  Friend of the Hunter family.  Stuart and David made their donation in Susan’s memory.

Mary Etheridge:  Mother of Trish McDowell.  Trish is a member of the staff at my parent's church and a wonderful mother to 2 beautiful girls (who I used to have the pleasure of babysitting in the church nursery).  I know that Mary has a team of support from the McDowell family.  Since her diagnosis in March she has completed radiation and is in the "wait and see" phase.  We are expecting great results for Mary!  

Jamia Clark:  Grandmother of Mandie Thacker.  She was a breast cancer survivor! I know that she had a major impact on Mandie's life. Though I never met Jamia, I've seen her influence first hand. She inspired Mandie to be a woman of immense faith and strength.

Aunt Linda:  Aunt of Melissia Brannen. Melissia’s message about her aunt inspired me to write this special edition blog. “My Aunt Linda is a breast cancer survivor (amongst several other forms of cancer and she has had a heart transplant, too!). She is what I believe in because every step she takes she does so for others. She is the funniest and most selfless person I have ever known. You remind me a lot of her.”  I dedicated my 10 mile Saturday this week to Aunt Linda.  I sent positive thoughts to her and her family with each of the 19,630 steps it took!

What is the story of your loved on the Roll Call?

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