Raise Awareness and Participate in Cancer Walks

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • Now, class, I’m going to say this one more time, and don’t make me repeat it again: walking is good for you. Yes, good for YOU. The only requirement is the ability to move yourself from point A to point B. Other than that, you don’t have to be healthy to walk. You might have weight issues, heart issues, time issues, emotional challenges… or breast cancer. Whatever it is that’s trying to lure you to a nice comfy seat on the couch, be strong once a day, and take a walk. Short, long, doesn’t matter; just putting one foot in front of the other is what counts.

    Once you start walking, it’s easy to really get into it. You see things, smell things, experience stuff you never would riding in a car. Watch the sun gradually sink into the horizon late on a summer evening, the sky blazing red and orange, fading to coral and rose, then to teal, navy blue, and finally black, as night comes on: you won’t see that on TV. Smell the roses–literally. If you’re not out walking, you’ll not have the opportunity to plunge your nose into a rose in full bloom, its early morning dew cold and sweet on your lips. And the daily symphony of birdsong is only audible if you’ve left the house early enough to hear it before the rush of traffic drowns out every other sound. 

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    Walking is good for your health. And exercise helps reduce your risk of breast cancer recurrence. Now, take it a step further: walking can help raise money for breast cancer research, awareness, outreach, and patient services. Surely you’ve heard of Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure, but there are many, many other walks for breast cancer out there. And lest you feel daunted by the 3 Day–who wouldn’t, 60 miles!–there are plenty of shorter walks available.

    Your own community may sponsor a local walk; as I write this, I’ve been training for our cancer center’s fund-raiser, a challenge that involves over 3,000 walkers/cyclers who last year raised over $1.7 million; this year’s goal is a cool $2 million. (Hey, any of you with deep pockets, want to sponsor me? I’m walking 20K this year, Arimidex be darned! Click here to help.)

    Check with the marketing department (or social services) where you receive your cancer treatment; they can fill you in about any local events. Walks are usually non-competitive (e.g., walk as slowly as you like), and often offer a choice of distances. The requirement to participate is raising sponsorship money (or donating your own funds), which many walks make easier by offering Web sites where you can set up your own page and take donations by credit card. Oh, and one more thing: the longer, more challenging walks offer lots of support and advice on training.

    Here’s a sampling of some of the better-known national walks.

    Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the American Cancer Society’s premier event to raise awareness and dollars to fight breast cancer. There are scheduled walks in 35 states; average distance is about 5 miles. Most Making Strides events are scheduled for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®: Next year, 2008, marks the 25th anniversary of the Komen Race for the Cure, the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world. This is a great walk if you’re just starting out; 5K is just 3.1 miles. While 25% of the funds raised through Race for the Cure goes to the national foundation, up to 75% stays right in your local community. Walks are held throughout the spring, summer, and fall, with a National Race for the Cure held in Washington, D.C., in June.

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    Breast Cancer 3 Day benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and it’s the mother of all walks. Sixty miles in three days–whew! It’s held in twelve cities around the country, during late summer and early fall. I’ve spoken with women who’ve done it, and they describe is as an incredibly powerful experience. I hope to work my way up to this event–someday!

    Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is held in nine cities around the country, beginning in April and stretching into October. It’s a two-day event; and while you can walk the distance you choose, most participants walk a marathon (26.2 miles), or a “marathon and a half” (39 miles, the maximum distance). Money raised goes to the Avon Foundation's Breast Cancer Crusade, whose primary focus is assisting the medically underserved population, including minorities, the poor, the elderly, and the under- and uninsured, with a mission to fund access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer.

    Y-ME Walk to Empower is held in 12 cities on Mother’s Day each year, with funds supporting Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization’s mission: “to ensure that no one faces breast cancer alone.” Featuring a 24-hour breast cancer hotline with interpreters available in 150 languages, Y-ME doesn’t support research; it funds outreach services “for those who can’t wait for tomorrow’s cure.”

    Revlon Run/Walk for Women is a 5K (3.1-mile) event funding all women’s cancers, not just breast cancer. Sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, it’s held each year in May, only in New York City and Los Angeles. Only two cities? Yes, but two BIG cities: since 1993, when it was founded, the Revlon has raised over $40 million for cancer research, counseling, and outreach programs. This year, nearly 100,000 walkers/runners took part. If you’re close to either one of these cities, it’s worth a look.

    The Weekend to End Breast Cancer® is Canada’s premier walk. Held during the summer, in seven major cities across the country (from Vancouver to Montreal), it raises money for breast cancer research, treatment and care, with donations going to specific hospitals and cancer foundations in the area where the walk is held. It’s a 60K walk (about 37 miles), stretched over a weekend.

    Walk the Walk: Hey, those of you in Great Britain–here’s your walk! Billed as a “power walk marathon” (26.2 miles), Walk the Walk is funky and fun. One variation, MoonWalk, “is the only Power Walking marathon in the world that starts at midnight with thousands of dynamic women and men wearing bras!” Money raised is donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the UK’s leading charity committed to fighting breast cancer through research and education.

Published On: April 24, 2008