As a business owner in the Atlanta area, I am encouraged on a regular basis by the hard working and inspirational staff, reporters, and clients of Donovan Reporting. Here’s one story from Susan Taylor, our quality control manager, which touched my heart. I share it here in hope that it will touch yours as well.
Sharing a little Atlanta sunshine,
I Walk Because I Can
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2013, my world fell apart…but only for a couple of weeks. Within short order, I took a mental inventory and knew that my attitude would be crucial to my survival and my recovery.
Peachtree Road Race or Bust!
In January 2014, the Atlanta Track Club invited me to become a member of their organization. The membership included an early entry into the Peachtree Road Race. I had never done the Peachtree before and, being a native Atlantan, I knew this had to be my year.
One question on the application was: If this is your first year participating, tell us your story. So I wrote a brief synopsis of my “why” that went something like this:
I’m faced with the biggest battle of my life – breast cancer. Focusing on the Peachtree Road Race will help me win this battle and inspire others in the process.
At that time, I had no idea of the magnitude of my disease or any awareness of the roadblocks I would face on my cancer journey. I was fairly certain, even at that early point, that I would be receiving chemotherapy and may not be feeling very well by July 4th, the day of the race. Over time, the Peachtree Road Race grew to become a symbol of beating cancer. In fact, I’ve kept a blog on Caring Bridge from my diagnosis to present, and I end each posting with “Take that, stupid cancer.”
Encouraging other women with breast cancer to keep fighting, no matter what, was first and foremost in my mind and in my heart. Many women have told me that my story gave them hope to keep fighting. Their encouraging words have given me strength to keep fighting my own battle.
Spreading Message of Hope!
I was contacted by Melissa Long of WXIA to be interviewed for a story which was aired the week of July 4th. It was an honor to have an opportunity to reach a large audience in order to encourage women to get a mammogram. My mission now is to be a walking and talking billboard for early detection and hope.
The Journey to Race Day
I began chemotherapy in March of 2014. By July, I was more than halfway through the course, but I was struggling with maintaining a high enough white blood cell count to be allowed outside of my home. Just a few days prior to the race, I began losing toenails – just one of the lovely side effects of the chemo drugs. Suffice it to say that it’s an extremely painful experience which lasts several days. However, I knew that no matter what, I was walking in the Peachtree. The race became a huge symbol of my battle and signified my victory over a horrific disease.
With some groveling on my part, the doctor cleared me to walk. I cannot put into words the joy and the sense of accomplishment I felt when I reached the finish line. I had two very dear friends walk with me: Mary Jo Duffy, a fellow breast cancer survivor; and Edy Choate, a nurse.
Two days after the race, I had to undergo a blood transfusion. In spite of that minor setback, I have no regrets about participating in my first Peachtree Road Race.
Once Is Never Enough…
As 2015 arrived, my energy level continued to improve and I knew that I’d be walking my second Peachtree. Last year at this time, I was so ill from the chemotherapy drugs and completely drained of all energy. This year, I walk five miles several times each week and am feeling better than ever. During recent months, gratitude and appreciation for life seem to take me over while training for the Peachtree. I feel like I have a second lease on life and I want to really make it count.
I cannot wait for July 4th – I am blessed!
If you are touched by this story and would like to partner with me to make a difference in the battle against breast cancer, please visit my participation page to find out how you can contribute to the cause. Here are the reasons I continue to walk and raise awareness:
- I walk for those who have lost their battle.
- I walk for those who are too weak to walk.
- I walk for those who have yet to receive diagnosis.
- I walk because I can.
Thanks for reading my story!
Survivor and Recovery Advocate