Making significant strides for breast cancer

Clarkston News Writer
Not all went well for two Springfield Township women as they began a journey that would bind them as friends forever.
Katie Anderson, of the North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservatory, and Donna Clancy, executive director of SCAMP, left on June 9 for the Breast Cancer 3-day ? a walk for breast cancer awareness that became three of the most grueling and significant days of their lives.
The friends started their journey with a flight from Detroit on July 9 that was scheduled to land in Dallas by 3 p.m. However, with cancellations and delays, the flight arrived in Dallas at 3 a.m., with starting ceremonies scheduled at 5 a.m.
‘It was unbelievable. So far as an experience I have never experienced something like it before,? said Anderson.
With less than two hours of sleep the women began the grueling three-day, 60-mile trek in 92 degree heat. More than 1,500 women started the walk, and by the end of the first day, more than 92 were given, IV’s for dehydration.
‘They were dropping like flies,? said Anderson.
Organizers continued to remind walkers of the three R’s: rehydrate, refuel and relieve (drink plenty of water, eat and take bathroom breaks). Anderson said walkers would cool themselves with handfuls of ice in bandanas on their necks and down shirts.
Due to heat, many walkers got sun poisoning, heat stroke, or heat rash and were wrapped with gauze. However, the biggest problem was blisters.
Of 27 people in Anderson and Clancy’s walking group, only eight completed the 60 miles. Two were hospitalized for heat stroke and one broke an ankle, although every one walked the last day.
‘I was the least battle-scared person who walked. I got a little sun poisoning and one blister,? said Clancy.
Volunteers and residents handed out ice along the walk. They also hosed down the walkers and left their sprinklers on over the sidewalks so participants could cool down.
‘We really couldn’t have done it without these angels,? said Anderson. ‘We wouldn’t have made it without them.?
Both women said their feet are still a mess. Anderson says she will probably lose four toe nails and her feet were covered with blisters the size of a silver dollars.
‘It was a bigger challenge than I thought it would be. We trained by walking Clarkston and Great Lakes Crossing Mall, but it did not prepare us,? said Anderson.
As suggested by organizers, the pair began training in February. They practiced by walking anywhere 4 to 17 miles at a time.
‘You would place one foot in front of the other and just keep going. It takes a lot of mental talking to yourself,? said Anderson
The two women agreed the experience has made them better friends. They both discovered their strengths.
? I’m really good at motivation, but she’s the best at stamina,? said Clancy.
The Clarkston women walked to honor and support a friends 25-year-old daughter who has breast cancer. The newly married woman would drive by and wave and shout encouragement. Their group raised more than $40,000 for breast cancer awareness.
Both women wore bracelets in memory of those who have past, or in honor of survivors.
Anderson said walking into Dallas on the last day was no breeze. The buildings in the downtown absorbed the days heat and there was dust from construction.
‘It was hot, unbearably hot,? said Anderson.
‘It was a good thing we trained,? said Clancy, ‘It was a challenge.?
‘You don’t know where your weak spots are until after ten miles. It is a mental game. You push yourself a little farther and the same goes for those who are fighting the disease,? said Anderson, ‘there are probably moments they don’t think they can go on, but they just keep putting one foot in front of the other.?
Clancy says she plans to continue to support and encouraging Michigan walkers anyway she can. She gave her left over supplies from Dallas to a woman who is walking this month. She said she will not be walking, but will stand on the sidelines cheering the walkers on and passing out water. She said the experience is so much a part of her, that she feels she should ‘put it on her resume.?
‘I would not do it again in 92 degree weather. I would definitely volunteer along the route,? said Anderson.
Anderson recommends for those walking the 3-day in Ann Arbor that they wrap their toes in lambs wool and purchase body glide for chafing where clothing rubs. She added that training up to 15 miles at a time will show where shoes and clothing rub.
The Michigan Breast Cancer 3-day walk is July 15-17 and will start at Meadow Brook Hall. The walk ends at the State Fair Grounds in Detroit.
For more information or to contribute call 1-800-966-3DAY or go online to