Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Please support me as I walk 60 miles to end breast cancer!

Dear friends and family,

In just over a month, I'll be participating in my 8th Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event. This year, I will walk 60 miles in 3 days on the Twin Cities event.

After so many years of asking for your support with my fundraising efforts, you might think that writing this letter would be easy for me. Yet, somehow, it seems more difficult each year. As I've considered what to write, I've realized it's harder because each year I'm given more reasons to walk. In fact, this year has been the most significant in my fight to end breast cancer.

Becky & Taylor at the 3-Day Closing Ceremony
Since I began working for the 3-Day in 20007, I've met so many wonderful participants and have been touched by their stories. But in February, for the first time, I attended the funeral of one of my Twin Cities walkers. Becky Hewitt was only 36 when she lost her life to breast cancer. She had been fighting stage four breast cancer for five years. She left behind a husband and two daughters, Kalley, age 14 and Taylor, age 7.


Two months after Becky's funeral, I got a phone call from my mom that I hoped would never come. As most of you know, my mom is a 14-year breast cancer survivor. She called to tell me she had found a new lump in her right breast. Despite numerous tests, the doctors weren't certain if the lump was cancerous, but thought it was pretty likely. On May 13th, she underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. She has experienced numerous complications including hyponatremia, a major asthma flare-up and pancreatitis. Her surgery and recovery have been so much more difficult than anyone expected. Yet, there is a silver lining. The pathology on the lump and all breast tissue came negative. She was officially declared cancer free!
 
As much as I would like to have that be my last breast cancer story of the year, sadly it's not. Just three weeks ago, one of my high school classmates, and a fellow 3-Day walker, died of metastatic breast cancer. Jeanette (Schmitz) Lehnert was only 35. Her daughter Sydney is only 6 years old.

Jeanette making the victory walk with her fellow survivors
Back in 2008, Jeanette found me on the Chicago event after seeing me taking photos along the route. After not seeing her for 14 years, I couldn't believe that she even recognized me, much less took the time to track me down at camp. At the time, I thought it was such a random coincidence. Of course, I should've known better - those experiences on the 3-Day are no accident. I'm so thankful that we were able to connect that day.

As I reflect on these past few months, I keep coming back to one specific moment. It happened when the doctor came in to my mom's hospital room and told us that there was no cancer. I cannot begin to describe the sense of awe and relief that I felt hearing that news. But almost immediately, I thought of Becky's daughter, Taylor. I remembered her leaning forward to gently take a flower from her mommy's casket at the cemetery. My heart broke as I was again reminded of just how unfair this disease is...and how fortunate I am to still have my mom.

On August 19-21, I will walk in memory of Becky and Jeanette. I will walk in celebration of my mom. I will again carry the names of all of my angels and survivors, and your angels and survivors, on the ribbon-filled tutu that I wear as I walk. I will walk for all the kids in my life, so that they may live in a world without breast cancer.

I will walk because I cannot walk away.

My goal is to raise $5,000 by Aug 5th. Please make a donation now to support my fundraising efforts and this important cause. Then consider making that donation every month for the next four months, using the payment plan option available when you donate online at The3Day.org. Many companies have matching gifts programs, so please ask your employer if they will double your donation with a matching gift.

To make a donation, go to www.The3Day.org/goto/jennycook. If you don’t want to donate online, you can download and print a donation form from that page that you can mail to me with your donation.

Thank you for all of your love, encouragement and support. I truly could not be a part of this amazing event without you!


With gratitude,
Jenny

1 comment:

DAVID HAAS said...

Hello,
I have a question about your blog. Please email me!
Thanks,
David