Why We Walk

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 21, 2008 – and was so fortunate to have an incredible support team made up of my medical staff, family and friends. Upon completion of my last chemo session, my friends threw me a “ Kicked Chemo’s Butt” party. Everyone came together to celebrate this major milestone on my road to recovery. While there, a group of us decided to participate in our first Susan G. Komen 3-Day. This was going to be our way to make an impact, make a statement and stand up to breast cancer together.

Our first 3-Day was in Dallas/Fort Worth in November of 2009. I knew I would be done with radiation by that time and I was ready to get my life back. But I never imagined that the race would become such an important part of all of our lives. Our team had a strong bond and a common purpose. Together, we encouraged, planned, fund-raised and trained. Now I consider my 3-Day team to be not just friends, but family.

In that very first race, we started as six members, raising over $15,000 and spending three amazing days building lifelong bonds. My team walked to honor not only me, but also others who were battling, had won the battle or sadly lost the battle. On day two, one of our team members was not able to continue and was forced to take a van back to camp. She had an amazing experience on her ride back as she met a woman battling Stage 4 and asked her why she was walking. The woman said, “How can I not walk? Look around you – you are all out here!” Another of our members had a sister battling cancer for the second time. During the closing ceremony, he hugged me and we cried together. I knew he was also thinking of her as he said how happy and proud he was that I was there and able to walk with him. This is why we walk – we want to make an impact, we want to be a part of the cure, and we want to see breast cancer eradicated.

In January of 2012, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I told my friends how thankful I was that it was caught so early and she was going to be just fine, the next statement was, “Well, then it’s time for another 3-Day, for your mom.” This turned out to be our second 3-Day in Dallas/Fort Worth. It was 2012. And this time it was very important to me on a personal level, because we would be walking in honor of my mother. Once again, we fund-raised and trained, our bond growing even stronger. At the same time, my friend lost his sister to the battle and was not able to participate. A year later we lost him to pancreatic cancer. This is why we walk – to honor all those affected by cancer.

After completing our second 3-Day, our team decided we should do another and pick a new state. We decided on Atlanta in 2014. At this point, we had raised over $30,000 to help the fight against breast cancer. Atlanta was an amazing experience. We took a mini vacation before our event and immediately afterward knew: we wanted to do ALL the Susan G. Komen 3-Day events. After checking off Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta, we decided to participate in the San Diego 3-Day in 2015. We have also already decided 2016 will be the Twin Cities, 2017 Seattle, 2018 Philadelphia, and 2019 Michigan. One thing is for sure: we will continue to walk in every state. And who knows? Maybe even overseas – until we find a cure. This is why we walk.

Karen Martinez, Ford Warriors in Pink/Model of Courage