Walkers get tough on cancer

Published 10:06 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Above, Katie Cobb, from left, June Steele and Lisa Turner of Cheers for Courage team stand in front of the White House during the Susan G. Kormen 3-Day for the Cure Walk. They and nearly 3,000 other people walked 60 miles to raise money for breast cancer research. Many participants tied pink ribbons to the gates. -- Submitted | Katie Cobb


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Western Tidewater’s Katie Cobb, June Steele and Lisa Turner were among 3,000 who participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk on Sept. 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

Everywhere you looked during last month’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk, pink was the dominate color, and the tents that housed the nearly 3,000 walkers were obviously no exception.

“It was crazy; it’s huge. The sight of all that pink,” Cobb said. “This is my third year. It’s a little different each year depending on who’s available to go.”

Cobb, Steele and Turner were members of Cheers to Courage team during the fundraiser.

Cobb had good reason to take the 60-mile trek. Her mother, Kathy Clements, died in 2009 from breast cancer at age 56.

“I saw my mom every day for 12 years trying to survive,” said Cobb. “I walked that October.”

The first year she participated in the walk was in Tampa, Fla., where the Drewryville woman had family; she raised $2,300. Following the event, the family celebrated Clements’s life at Walt Disney World.

Steele, who is Cobb’s aunt and Clement’s sister-in-law, walked the first time in 2008.

“But she was much more than a sister-in-law,” said Steele.

Turner’s presence at the walk was also significant.

The Capron resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Interestingly, she had one surgery prior to the diagnosis.

“Cancer’s tough, but I’m tougher,” became Turner’s mantra.

She endured six weeks of radiation treatments, but required no chemotherapy because the cancer was caught early. The disease had not gotten into her lymph nodes and traveled further. Ultimately, Turner needed a lumpectomy.

“Now we walk for Lisa,” Turner said

For her own experience, Steele, formerly of Capron, has had four biopsies, all benign.

“It could be me next, and it’s why I continue to support (the cause),” she said.

Steele and the others agreed that women should be “proactive in their treatment.”

She remembered that after a mammogram her sister-in-law had years ago, Clements followed the instructions of her doctor and radiologist. Rather than do a biopsy, they just said to watch it for awhile. But at the third test after a year, the cancer had then spread to the bones.

“Looking back, she would have done things differently,” said Steele.

In contrast, Turner and Cobb said they both see a lot of an “I’d rather not know” attitude.

“Be your own advocate,” urged Steele.

Sure, walking 20 miles a day can be tough. But the trio agreed the only thing that really made the expedition difficult at times was the rain. Overall, the women were impressed with the size of the event and the efficiency of planning.

Both this year and last the route started at the National Stadium and winded its way through Washington

“With 3,000 people, it’s not easy to get lost,” said Cobb.

Camping in a field of pink tents was done in nearby Germantown.

An estimated $7 million-plus has been raised.

“We have until Oct. 26 to get all of our money,” said Cobb, who’s $200 shy of her obligatory $2,300.

Steele is done, and Turner needs $230.

The fundraising is done in different ways.

“You start writing a letter and state the reasons,” said Cobb, adding that fundraisers such as pig pickin’s or selling concessions at Riverbirch were organized.

“A lot more people are becoming aware,” Steele said. “We’ve had pretty good supporters financially, and they expect it now.”

Steele said that the idea of raising $2,300 scared her at first.

“It’s not as difficult as it sounds,” she said. “It’s a very rewarding endeavor. Very moving and very emotional with that many people, such as women and their spouses, dads and their daughters.”

During the walk, Cobb saw many people wearing bandanas or scarves to cover their heads made bald by cancer treatments. She added that someone who didn’t know the reason might think they’re all crazy.

The women also saw a sign that for Cobb sums up her purpose:

“‘I haven’t lost my mind, but a loved one,’” she said. “That’s the reason I’m walking.”