Joyce's Story: I walk for the women who can't

Joyce's Story: I walk for the women who can't

In March of 2010 I signed up for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day in Washington, D.C.  The walk itself was 60 miles over 3 days, but the journey to get there was 7 months long, and completely changed my life.

One in eight women get diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  And although my family - so far - was safe, as the mother of a teenage daughter, those odds were unacceptable.  I was walking for all the mothers, the daughters, the sisters, and the friends who were the one in eight.  And I was walking so that my daughter would not be.

Part of the 3 Day commitment was a pledge to raise a minimum of $2300 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  That's a lot of money.  I was doing some Facebook fundraising, when my little brother posted that he'd give me $300 if I'd shave my head.  Before I even saw the post, two more of my friends offered to match it.  $900 was a lot of money.  But then again, I had a lot of hair.  After a few days of debating, teasing, and praying, I said that if my other brother would chip in $300, I'd do it.  I couldn't turn down $1200!  It's just hair.  Right?

Mother's Day weekend I went home to Peoria, IL - Susan G. Komen's hometown - and did the Memorial Race for the Cure with my mom, 2 sisters-in-law, and my daughter. And afterwards, my brothers shaved my head.  Bald.

Some people called me crazy, some people called me brave. Honestly, it was the best thing I ever did.  The publicity that came with it brought in another $800 in donations.  I didn't have hair to mess with during the long hot summer filled with training walks.  My showers were quicker, I didn't have to buy hair products, and it took me hardly any time to get ready in the mornings.  It was incredibly liberating.  And it made me realize how much time, energy, and money we waste on our vanity.

I lost my hair by choice.  Chemo patients don't have that choice.  And so, I continue to walk, to raise money, and to call attention to a disease that needs to go into the history books, along with small pox and polio.  I walk for the women who can't.  I walk for the future.  Mine.  Yours.  Theirs.