The Race for the Cure isn't the only breast cancer awareness event taking place in Atlanta this weekend. This Sunday, in honor of Mother's Day, the Breast Cancer Network of Strength will be hosting it's annual Walk to Empower series of events all around the country to help raise money for their support services.
For those who aren't familiar, the Breast Cancer Network of Strength (formerly known as the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization) is a national non profit organization with the mission to ensure through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. Unlike Susan G. Komen for the Cure, this organization does not raise money for research. Instead, it provides immediate emotional relief for anyone touched by breast cancer.
At the heart of the Breast Cancer Network of Strength is their 24/7 breast cancer peer support center and hotline, YourShoes. Through YourShoes, breast cancer patients are put into email or phone contact with peer counselors and breast cancer survivors who are there to help them make educated decisions about their treatments and to provide comfort in a time of need. In addition to YourShoes, the Breast Cancer Network of Strength also provides newsletters and publications help provide breast cancer patients and their families with information and support. Local affiliates provide a number of support services as well, including support groups, early detection and teen workshops, wigs and prostheses for women with limited resources and advocacy on breast cancer policies. To learn more about the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, please visit their website, where I found most of this information. You can also learn how to get involved in their various outreach programs here.
Marcia, the angel of the Mag 5 family and the Relentless Optimism 3 Day team, learned that her breast cancer had returned in January 2007. Just a few short weeks later, my mom first learned that she had breast cancer as well. Marcia reached out to my mom immediately, recommending an oncologist, talking through treatment options and going out for ice cream dates on rough days. The two of them accompanied each other to an endless array of doctor's appointments and chemo treatments. They talked on the phone all the time and commiserated about yet another unexpected side effect of treatment. They were each other's rock through out their personal battles with the cancer demon.
Watching Mom and Marcia, I have seen first hand just how important it was for my mom to have someone to talk to who just "got it" without having to explain anything. I could listen to Mom and comfort her, but it wasn't the same as the understanding that she got from Marcia. And I know that Marcia felt the same way about my mom.
No one should have to go through cancer treatment by themselves. The work that the Breast Cancer Network of Strength is doing is so important for just that reason. So many women and men facing a diagnosis of breast cancer don't have a Marcia to turn to. They don't have anyone to recommend a good place to buy wigs or the best way to tie a scarf. Helping the Network of Strength do their work is one way that we can all be a Marcia for someone else.
This Sunday, on Mother's Day, I will be walking in the 3 mile Walk to Empower at Chastain Park here in Georgia to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength. There are 13 other Walk to Empower events taking place at the same time in cities all around the country. If you would like to take part in the Walk to Empower here in Georgia, you can find all of the information here. Information about the other cities can be found here.
There is no registration fee for this event. They simply ask that you do your best to help them raise money using their online tools. I have set up a fundraising page that can be found here. While I haven't been actively fundraising for this event, I have been supporting the Breast Cancer Network of Strength through their BeeWell for Life collaboration with Bumble Bee. I have been logging all of my training miles for both the Atlanta Race for the Cure and the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure on their website every week. In return, Bumble Bee will donate $0.15 to the Breast Cancer Network for Strength for every mile logged on their site from now through the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, up to $200,000. Since I started logging my miles two weeks ago, I have already raised over $13 and I'm hoping to raise a lot more in the coming weeks.
If you would like to support the great work of the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, I highly encourage you to start logging your miles at www.beewellforlife.com as well. And come out and join us for the Walk to Empower this Sunday. My mom was lucky enough to have someone to share her cancer journey with the first time. This year, I will be helping to ensure that other breast cancer patients around the country have someone to face their battles with as well by supporting the Breast Cancer Network of Strength. What a great way to spend Mother's Day!