Cancer march no ‘walk in the park’

By Karen Wellborn

Kyrene Corridor residents Melissa Hirschl, Laura Ohm and Susan Gable will be joining thousands of other women and men at the Tempe Breast Cancer 3-Day, an October fund-raiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.

The event is definitely not a “walk in the park.”

Participants will be traversing a total of 60 miles over the three days, beginning at Tempe Town Lake and culminating at Rawhide in Scottsdale.

“I have done walks for breast cancer in the past,” says Hirschl, but never in such a demanding capacity as this. In retrospect, they were just ‘baby steps.’”

Said Hirschl:

“I am involved in walking because my mother, aunt and sister-in-law suffered from breast cancer in their lifetimes and I want to honor their legacy. At the initial meeting, I got caught up in the excitement and signed up on the spot.

“Of course, the next second I thought to myself, ‘How in the world am I going to do this? Sixty miles in three days--what was I thinking?”

Not to mention the fact that each participant is committed to raise $2,100--a lot of money to ask people to pony up, says Hirschl.

“Fortunately I have a wide breadth of friends and relatives that are helping me meet my challenge.”

For some participants, the Oct. 22-23 event is a tribute to those lost to breast cancer; for others it is a rally for loved ones still fighting the disease; still others see it as a celebration of their lives as breast cancer survivors.

Ohm is one of the latter. 

“I decided to do something meaningful with this walk,” she says. “It is a very special and powerful event to fight breast cancer. I’ll be walking because I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed during my routine mammogram two years ago; at the time, I could not feel a lump. I went through radiation treatment and was also put on hormones to reduce the chance of the disease returning.

“The doctors told me this type of cancer can return in three years. I just found out that I have one more battle to fight because I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer once again. This makes the walk that much more important for me. I am doing this so that my daughter and her child will not have to face this disease.”

In order to participate, each walker must train arduously. To help prepare for the event, each walker is supported by coaches who assist in all aspects of training and fundraising, while clinics, meetings, training sessions and mailings provide ongoing support.

Says Gable:

“The real goal of this walk is to change lives--yours, those in your community and many others who will benefit from the education, medical treatment, research, therapy and support.”

Once a taboo subject, breast cancer awareness is gaining more support due to the Komen Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust.

To help the walkers reach their goals, contributions can be made online to the sponsors’ donation at www.The3Day.org.

To learn how to participate or volunteer with the Breast Cancer 3-Day, visit www.The3Day.org or call (800) 996-3Day.