Susan Walked to Fight Breast Cancer

WE DID IT!! We walked ALL 60+ miles from Santa Clara to San Francisco over three incredible days. The Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day was an unbelievable experience. One that I hope to repeat in the coming years.

Our adventure began at 5:30 am on Friday 7/27 when we and our gear were dropped off at Santa Clara convention center. After a light breakfast, a group stretching session and an emotional Opening Ceremonies we took our first steps out the chute at about 7:30 am. We were greeted by many similing, happy faces cheering us on--making me feel like a superstar. A feeling that would only intensify throughout the weekend.

From Santa Clara we traveled through Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park--where we had lunch then boarded CalTrain for a short ride to San Carlos, through Belmont and finally San Mateo (I arrived within the first 800 people at 3:30pm). We camped out at Bay Meadows Race Track on the infield--an amazing sea of blue tents.

Once our tent was set up we opened and read our banner for the first time then hung it on our tent so we could find our new home. After a hot shower in a semi-truck, and pasta dinner I spent some time in the medic tent getting three of my 6 blisters popped and bandaged.

Day 2 started at dark o'clock, I mean 5 am. While spending 1/2 hour doctoring my feet to get them ready to walk again I was serenaded by the sounds of horses galloping in circles around me, literally, the track opened at 6 am and the jockeys were out warming up the horses. After eating breakfast, packing up and loading our gear we were pounding the pavement again. Today brought us lots and lots of hills.

We walked through San Mateo, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Millbrae (including the famous Hell Hill renamed Hope Hill) and San Bruno. The last few miles were complete agony for me--I got shin splints on top of more blisters. I couldn't walk fast enough to get to camp at Skyline College. We had 20 minute massages scheduled for 2:45 pm and I was determined to get there in time. Weather wise we lucked out there was no fog but the wind was wild--blowing tents over during the night!

On night 2 I made friends with the physical therapists who iced, massaged, stretched (as I cringed) and taped my shins, then popped and bandaged my three new blisters. There was a rememberence tent where I wrote a note on a banner to my hero, my mom, letting her know how inspirational she is to me. I also wrote all the courageous women I was walking for--Mary, Ann, Margaret, Marilyn, Carol, Cheryl, Dorothy, Viola, and Jane. These banners were to be carried in during closing ceremonies.

On day 3 we walked through Pacifica, Daly City and San Francisco. We walked along the coast, it was pretty cold and grey most of the day. The new fashion statement was wearing an extra pair of socks on my hands as mittens. Such a great look. Once we turned inland and headed into Golden Gate Park for lunch we warmed up. We continued through the Presidio to the holding area in the Marina where we were greeted to a superstar's welcome home. I realized just how many people 3,000+ were, everyone was cheering us in, clapping and giving us high 5s. The welcoming committee seemed to stretch on forever. After we rested, hydrated, stretched, and received our VICTORY t-shirts we got in line and cheered others in.

The last few blocks through SF were amazing, I was in the sea of blue shirts (for walkers) in front, my mom followed in the sea of pink shirts (for survivors). Drivers honked, people waved, cheered and held up "thank you" signs. Once onto the Marina Green for closing ceremonies it was great to see my friends waiting for me!! After 3 days of meeting new people it was nice to see some familiar faces in the crowds. Although I was tired and my feet hurt I knew I had done what I set out to do and that tonight I was going home to sleep in a real bed!!

Final counts: We actually tied 4 to 4 in sappiest, however I "won" in the blister department with a whopping 11 blisters to mom's 1.

In the end I was ready for the 3-Day to be over. I was looking forward to seeing my friends again and telling them all about my experiences. At dinner on Sunday night I think my friends were mainly shocked when I drank an entire pitcher of water in the course of an hour.

I was completely touched by the many people who supported us throughout the 3-Day event. The costumed Pit Stop crews making sure we hydrated and ate, the San Jose Bike Cops that gave us a nice rear view to look at, the Harley Bikers who were traffic volunteers making sure we stopped at red lights and stretched, the medics and physical therapists who gave my feet and shins tender loving care, and all the people along the way who came out and cheered us on. My arms actually got a workout from waving so much.

Thanks to all of you, my closest and dearest friends for your support during my training, your cheering and encouragement during my walk. Together we personally raised $4,235 contributing to the $5.5 million net proceeds from the San Francisco walk that are going to fund much needed research to irradicate Breast Cancer from our lives and giving those who are disadvantage the resources they need to get access to the medical technologies needed for early diagnosis and treatment.

I will be participating in this great event in 2002. Next year I plan to be part of the Crew in either San Diego or San Francisco. Any of you want to join me? Until then, thank you so very much for your generosity and support. You made it possible for me to participate in this event to put an end to Breast Cancer, a cause I couldn't possibly believe in more.

Photos to come soon.

Susan Kendall
2001 San Francisco Walker #1874
2001 SF or SD Crew #?