In 2004, my older sister Sharon passed away after a 9 year battle with breast cancer. I received the news while at work, and was devastated. My student worker, and friend, Sarah, was with me at the time. She knew all about Sharon even though they had never met. Sarah knew of Sharon’s strength, her desire to live life to the fullest, and passion for helping others as a career nurse.
For 10 years, Sarah raised money and walked in the Susan G. Komen Three Day, 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk in Sharon’s memory. Sarah always asked me to join her, but I was afraid. I feared everything about it – the months of training (you don’t just step out and walk 60 miles), raising money, the weather, blisters, etc. One day, I finally summoned the courage to commit to the challenge. I actually did the walk TWICE in these shoes! With all the training and the walks, they have hundreds of miles on them.
I was proud of myself for the accomplishment, but what I really came to understand was that my fear of walking was silly. When I looked in the faces of so many breast cancer victims and survivors, I never saw fear. I only saw courage beyond measure. I saw determination greater than words, and a level of commitment to meet the challenges they would all face with their eyes wide open. These shoes remind me of overcoming my fear, but even more importantly, they remind me of the women I walked for, and with. These women I respect beyond words. The shoes represent not only miles gone by, but the many more miles ahead to beat this devastating disease.