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Diary of a Journey By Deborah Day, KRH CRNA

In January, 2007, I decided to participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk in Dallas, Texas, slated for October 26, 27,28, 2007. A Journey had begun.

I have been in the medical field since, 1969, first as a student nurse, then as an operating room nurse and finally a CRNA. As nurse anesthetist who provides anesthesia for hundreds of patients, both women and men, I have seen many who in some way have been affected by breast cancer. I have seen the changes in survival rate and better treatments for those affected with breast cancer. The five year survival rate for women with localized breast cancer (cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or to other locations outside the breast) has increased from 74 percent in 1982 to 98% in 2007. I have been there when they go to sleep and when they awaken from their anesthesia. I have tried to always provide comfort and support to my patients, although I am only with them for a short time. I still remember their fear, anxiety, relief/resolve when the diagnosis is made. I have been involved with my patients, providing anesthesia for their initial biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, axillary node dissections, reconstruction, central ports for chemotherapy. I have been touched by these patients, their family, friends and my co-workers.

I wanted to do something to help make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. What can I do to make a difference? So I thought, raise money and walk. For all the past, present and future generations, to eradicate the disease in our lifetime, everyone deserves a lifetime.

The breast cancer 3-day is a 60 mile walk, averaging 20 miles per day for women and men who want to aid in fighting breast cancer. As a participant, I was required to raise a minimum of $2,200.00 to be collected no later than 4 weeks after the walk finished. The money raised helps fund cancer research and community outreach programs. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the leading global movement to end breast cancer receives 85% of the proceeds. The National Philanthropic Trust breast cancer fund receives 15% of the proceeds. The NPT is an endowment so support is not dependent on gifting activities.

Through the help of my friends, I collected my money, I trained, I packed and set off for Dallas.

Friday, October 26th, 4:30 AM, South Fork Ranch, I went to breakfast, with 2699 other walkers, who had decided to do the same thing. I met many walkers, including a gentleman who at the age of 75 was getting ready to do another walk and would pass 1000 miles on Saturday. I met women who like me are here for the first time and I met a woman who was going to do her 22nd -3 Day walk. All these people, all exhilarating were giving me such a feeling of inspiration. I was truly humbled because here I am, for the first time with not a clue of what to expect, but so excited to be doing this. With pink everywhere I look, it’s now 8:00 AM, 36 degrees, men and women of all ages (16-75 years old), survivors, family members, friends, mothers, daughters, husbands, all with the same goal, we start walking.

I walk, meeting new people, making new friends, such a diverse group, including the woman who just six days earlier finished her chemotherapy. As I walk, my mind encourages me on…three days, 60 miles total, to make a difference, I can do it! We walk along the way, snacks, drinks, lunch and of course, port-a-potties! I finish my first day, arrive at the campsite, while people on the street were cheering us in. Upon entering the campsite, I see nothing but pink tents, I searched for my duffle, put up my tent, enjoyed a great meal, showered and collapsed before 7:00 PM. I was so exhilarated, but also so exhausted. Sleep felt great!

Saturday, October 27th, 5:00 AM, It’s 43 degrees, dark and a little chilly…okay it’s more than chilly. Breakfast is just around the corner. You know the smell of breakfast is so much better when you’re in the outdoors, I can hardly wait to eat. The meal was great, ready to go, but before I headed off to walk, I checked my feet, and I am thankful there are no blisters and set out. At 7:58 AM, the walk began, and still people were on the side, cheering us on, emotions constantly being awakened by our “cheerleaders”. It truly is a wonderful feeling. Again, like the first day, you meet more individuals as you walk. You hear their stories and why they are there. I take it all in. It’s just so exhilarating. It’s evening, back to camp, pink tents are everywhere, I just hope I find mine! I’m ready for dinner, a shower, and there’s entertainment . There was entertainment last night but so exhausted I couldn’t go. Tonight I go! I feel good, in fact, I feel better than yesterday!

Sunday, October 28th, it’s 5 AM, 46 degrees, and it’s the last day. I pack my belongings, place them in the equipment truck and head off to breakfast. I have 20 miles to go today. Today when I left at 7:45 AM, I walk, I celebrate my accomplishment. It’s now 3:45 PM, I made it to SMU in Dallas with the other 2699 participants and the 340 crew! We rest and then all gather for the closing ceremony. This particular walk raised $6.5 million for the fight against breast cancer. Wow! As the ceremonies end but the fight and memories last a lifetime. I collect my gear and off to the hotel.

This is one of the most amazing things I have been involved with. 3000 people with a common goal to end breast cancer forever.

I would like to thank all the people who donated their emotional support and fund my walk. I walked for my family, friends, and co-workers, I walked for all the people who have in some way have been touched by breast cancer, either in the past, present or future. “Everyone deserves a lifetime!”

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