My connection to breast cancer is not about my own diagnosis, but one I have dealt with personally, when my aunt, Katherine Johanson, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer 3-years ago at the age of 45. Her diagnosis not only changed her life, but my life as well. After the initial shock wore off, I realized I needed to do something more. Beyond prayers and positive thoughts, I needed to do something greater.
I signed up to walk 60 miles in the Breast Cancer 3 Day, and proceeded to train for several months and raised over $11,000 in the process. And there she was, at the finish line, welcoming me with open arms despite the intense pain, two days before her mastectomy. I have walked the full 60 miles twice, in 2006 and 2008; I also crewed in 2007 and 2009, and am planning to participate in the Breast Cancer 3 Day twice in 2010: walking in Seattle and crewing in San Diego. More than being my inspiration, Katherine has taught me the impact one person can make. I’ve learned just how many lives she has touched, and I am committed to sharing her passion with everyone.
Katherine gracefully allowed me to share her story, and I continue to do so every chance I get. I have learned the greatest prevention is early detection. Now I share the message of regular self-examinations, especially with young women who may not regularly do them. One in seven women will be diagnosed in her lifetime with this fateful disease, and I can’t stand to lose another one of my loved ones to breast cancer.
For the past two years, two of my dear scrapbooking friends, Andrea and Pamela Ancich, have joined me on my journey against the fight against breast cancer. In 2008, Katherine was once again waiting for us at closing ceremonies, cheering us on as we hobbled to the finish line with aching feet. Andrea and Pamela were able to get to know and love “Auntie Katherine”. As a member of our LSS’s design team, Andrea recently completed a layout of us at the 2008 finish line using the Slice Think Pink Design Card.
Unfortunately, Katherine lost her battle June 5, 2009. Before she passed, I promised her I would never, ever quit fighting, so no one has to undergo the battle she went through. Although I now walk in her memory, I continue to fight for the woman who is diagnosed every three minutes and for each one who loses her fight every thirteen minutes. And I’ll keep fighting for a cure until I’m no longer able.
Until there’s a cure…