A Walk for a Cause!

If someone asked me, what motivated me to do a 39.3 mile walk for breast cancer? I would honestly say, I am not sure other than I thought it would be an opportunity to do something good for someone else, while at the same time pushing myself to new limits.

When I say push, I mean PUSH. Training and preparing for the walk took commitment and fortitude. Actually completing the walk took strength and determination. It was hard, but so worth it because I raised money for a worthy cause, accomplished something I never thought I could do personally, made incredible friends along the way and met so many nice people. The total experience was a blessing to me.

Breast cancer is a very scary journey for anyone that has to go through it. Trust me, I know since I am a 24 year breast cancer survivor? The word Cancer is scary but the word can also be liberating. Liberating in the sense that as you fight your personal battle you become what you believe. I chose to believe that God would cure me and that as long as I retain a positive mindset the cancer battle would be a journey for me to learn and grow. Thank God for answering prayers.

As I walked the 39.3 miles on September 10th & 11th and took each step one at a time, I kept thinking about life and the fact that everything you do in life is one step at time, including fighting cancer. The 39.3 miles took me 94,000 steps and every time my feet hit the ground I imagined I was stepping out cancer. I hoped with each step I took, it helped someone along the way.

At the closing ceremony of the Avon 39 in Santa Barbara, I was speaking with one of my team members, who is also a breast cancer survivor. She was shared her experience of being a 2 year survivor. What struck me as we  talked she said no one knew she was a survivor. I hugged her and shared that the most powerful part of being a survivor is when you let others know. Not because you want sympathy or you want to broadcast that you are now different but because you can always be an inspiration to someone else.

I remember when I was going through my treatment that I didn't want anyone to know. At that time cancer was a death sentence and I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I was an independent and determined person and I didn't want that to change.

I remember when I was out one evening at an event talking to a group of ladies and one of them said, "You look amazing". The truth was I didn't want to be there because I felt like crap. I had just finished my chemo treatment a couple hours before the event. I graciously thanked her and share I was a little tired and why. She was totally surprised and shared that she and one of the other ladies were survivors also. They both looked amazing and very confident. We started talking about breast cancer and their journeys . From that conversation, I was so encouraged, felt stronger and empowered to not be afraid.

That evening taught me to embrace my struggle and share because something from my experience might help someone else. I can honestly say I have spoken to many women over the years that have been diagnosed and I always share 2 simple things; believe in God and keep positive thoughts because you are never alone.

Our life mission is to help others and I hope sharing this exert from my story will be encouraging to someone. No matter what you do or like, get out and help someone. It is contagious!!

Thanks to all my supporters and the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund for their support and desire to make a difference in some ones life.

Valeria Howard-Vason