Happy Wednesday! As many of you know, in 10 days I will be participating in the Avon 39 – The Walk To Fight Breast Cancer.
For all of you who don't know my experience with this disease i'll tell you my personal story. During November of 2012, my mother called me during work saying that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My world slowly crumbled as I knew I was thousands of miles away and couldn’t give or show her the same support she showed me throughout those 23 years. But, instead of feeling sorry for herself or sad, she was determined. Determined to be positive, determined to be strong and determined to fight through this awful disease.
Fast forward to 2015 and not only has she continued to be a fighter, but she beat breast cancer and is better than ever. I’m so thankful to have her in my life and can’t imagine not being able to call her at a moment’s notice to ask for career advice, bring me back to earth or even a simple “I love you.”
That being said, that's the reason why i'm walking the Avon 39. For my mom and to help find a curse for breast cancer.
I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Lis Fuchs, a breast cancer survivor who is participating in her sixth AVON 39! She's San Francisco's top walker and has raised over $22,000 thus far! Insane, right?!
Lis is currently living with metastatic breast cancer and is walking to raise awareness about funds for the disease. I asked Lis a few questions about her experiences and getting involved in the Avon 39 Walk.
I asked her a few questions and am truly inspired by her spirit, her wisdom, and determination to find a cure.
Talk to me about your experience with breast cancer and how does it feel to be a breast cancer survivor?
Breast cancer has been a part of my adult life for as long as I can remember. My mother was diagnosed while I was in college, and since then breast cancer has become somewhat of a family vocation. Virtually every woman on both sides of my family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, several multiple times. I was diagnosed for the first time at 37 years old.
Survivor is a funny word. I know it is a word that is thrown around a lot when it comes to being initially diagnosed with breast cancer and coming out the other end of treatment. Once diagnosed with breast cancer, there is a 30% chance that at some point in the future (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 26 years, etc… later) that a breast cancer patient will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body and is not curable. The average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with MBC is 26 months, but is extending every year with new research and developments. I was diagnosed with MBC nine years after my original diagnosis, and have been living with (more battling with it lately in my bones and liver) the effects of MBC for the past 4 ½ years.
How did you get involved with AVON 39? And what's your favorite part about being involved in this community?
I participated in my first Avon Walk and captained my first team a decade ago in 2005 (3 years after my initial diagnosis). At the time, I really had no idea that I would be back to walk again.
Two years later I walked again with my friend, to more quietly celebrate my five-year “cancer-versary”. In the back of my mind I knew that I wanted to make a renewed commitment to the cause to celebrate my ten-year anniversary.
Over four years ago when I learned the cancer was back (or more likely had never left), I knew I really needed to walk. I wanted to help others less fortunate than myself and I wanted the team spirit of doing it alongside family and friends. And so began Team Ten Strong!
My hope in walking the Avon39 and raising money for research is that we can get one step closer to finding a way for those of us living with metastatic disease (Stage IV) to live with breast cancer as a forever-treatable disease.
What's one moment that stood out to you during your walk?
Every year I make some unexpected new connection. It’s never planned. It just happens. Last year, I spoke impromptu at the Saturday night dinner and introduced my three sons to the crowd. They were young when I was first diagnosed (9, 6, and 4) and I know it brought a lot of hope and tears when the young Moms in the audience saw my three strapping young men (now 21, 19 and 17) stand in support of their Mom!
During the 2nd Day of the Walk, I was stopped by one of the MOTO crew who presented me with a pink shirt for making him cry!
If you'd like to learn more about Lis, you can read her story here. Also, i'm $400 dollars away from my goal and need your help! If you'd like to donate, please follow the link and help me in my fight against breast cancer!