Breast Cancer Walks a Great Fundraiser, Accessible to All

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • It’s a lovely, cool summer evening. Ordinarily, I’d be out on the deck, enjoying the gentle jangle of the wind chimes as I sit in my Adirondack chair and watch the sun settle into the trees on the horizon. But tonight, I’m standing beside my bed, looking at the lovely pink T-shirt I got today.





    Alongside the shirt is a yellow ribbon, on which I’ve written the names of friends and family with cancer. Some are gone; some survive. Two numbered bibs (#26) rest beside the ribbon: one for the front of my shirt, the other for the back. At the top, above the number: Norris Cotton Cancer Center. At the bottom: Survivor.

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    If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m walking in our local cancer center fundraiser tomorrow–12 1/2 miles (God willing, and if my feet hold out!) When I registered this afternoon, I was given a bright blue water bottle, a lovely commemorative T-shirt, and a neat gym bag, with all kinds of straps and inner pockets and zippers and stuff like that. I left the registration area thrilled with this bounty of gifts, and deeply grateful for the corporate sponsors who’d donated them.

    After registering, I enjoyed a free “carbo load” dinner: pasta, salad, bread, prepared by a local Italian restaurant. I sat with my team, Team TGIF, the group of breast cancer survivors I’ve gathered together over the years. I’ve written about them here before; we meet once a month to drink margaritas and laugh and gossip and help each other through cancer.


    We were surrounded by some of the 3000 walkers and cyclists who’ve raised over $1.6 million in pledges over the past three months, and who tomorrow will walk and cycle through the hills and valleys that mark the winding border between New Hampshire and Vermont–some walking as far as 20K, some riding as far as 100 miles, all spending part of their precious weekend time to support cancer research.

    I feel honored and fortunate to be part of this group. Honored in two senses of the word: glad that I’ve raised money and will now walk for this cause, and honored by all the folks participating–indeed, the vast majority–who don’t have cancer, but are making the effort to support those of us who do. And fortunate: Fortunate that I’m still alive, that I can step out into a bright July morning and walk 12 miles with my friends. I know at this time tomorrow I’ll be tired and footsore. But it’ll be a good tired, and my feet will be plopped in a bowl of ice water. As I walk tomorrow, I’ll celebrate life; and every step I take will be in memory of those who won’t be there with me.

    Postscript: It’s 24 hours later. Eleven of us on Team TGIF walked an aggregate of nearly 100K (62 miles). Our team raised $7,224.00. That doesn’t seem like much, when you look at the big national fund-raisers. But I’m convinced that cancer will finally be cured by millions of people taking billions of small steps, and I’m proud to have taken a few of those steps today.



    Team TGIF: That's me in the back on the left.

Published On: July 31, 2007