Walkers share common goal in fight against breast cancer

By Jennifer Kabat
Walking nearly 40 miles in a weekend is epic. It’s just short of completing two marathons in two days. No one would expect that of an Olympic athlete like Paula Radcliffe, yet, four local women are going to do it. The task is grueling, the reward hopefully great. They’re not doing it though because they’re gluttons for punishment. No, they want to help find a cure for breast cancer. Each of them is raising money to fight the disease as part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

In a week where recent news about breast cancer reports the disease is actually 10 distinct cancers, the possibility of a cure seems tantalizingly close. An article in the scientific journal Nature reported that scientists studying the molecular structure of breast cancer have pinpointed the 10 types, a discovery that experts say will allow the development of treatments to target each one and hopefully wipe out the disease. It’s heartening news at a time when cases have more than doubled over the last 30 years, making the walk more urgent, the funds more important. The four walkers however aren’t doing it simply for the recent discoveries but far more personal reasons.

For Becky Hubbell of Kelly Corners it’s a near miss with cancer. Her throat tightens as she talks about it. Her first baseline mammogram a couple of years ago came back abnormal.

Frightening time
“It was terrifying,” she says. She kept the news from her children because she didn’t want to scare them, and she and her husband had to prepare for the worst. She sighs as she talks about what a relief it was when the doctor told her it was only a cyst, and she still thinks about what might have been.

Kim Searle of Fleischmanns is walking for her sister. She has breast cancer but lives in Bozeman MT, and Searle can’t go out there. She wants to help, and walking is how. “Every time we talk,” Searle says, “she says how much she appreciates this, how much she loves me.”

Searle’s niece Kaitlyn Johnsmeyer, also of Fleischmanns, is walking too. “I want to achieve this, to walk that far and have someone benefit from it,” she explains.

“You see the stories online, and it’s touching,” Hubbell adds. “Thank God I’m going to help and not what it could have been.”

Another walker, Sandy Walcutt of Roxbury, is walking for her childhood best friend, who has breast cancer. Each member of the team needs to raise $1,800 for the walk. While it’s in October in New York City, they’re starting to fundraise now. The women are kicking off with a barbecue and bake sale on the April 28 at the Fleischmanns Fire Department.

More events set
Other events are planned throughout the summer including a Zumba fundraiser. Johnsmeyer, a volunteer with the Fleischmanns VFD explained that the department isn’t just barbecuing the chickens but donating them too. “They told me,” she says with a laugh, “we’re selling chicken breasts to save the ta-tas.”

The barbecue and bake sale starts at noon and continues until everything is sold out.