Leisure & Travel
in Oak Park, IL
Mom Stats: Two kids: 15-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son; Married for 23 years
Referred By: Donna Marie Post
Sandra in her own words...
I don't know if I had a journey really. I got through the surgery with the support of my husband, my parents, and my sisters. Then, completed the radiation treatments with support from several friends from Thousand Waves Karate. I had to get to the hospital 5 days a week for 6 weeks for treatments. Two days a week, Nancy or Sarah (the directors of Thousand Waves) and Ann or Peggy (two fellow Karate students) would drive out to our house, take me to the hospital, wait while I had my appointment and then drive me home. This was so helpful since that meant my husband, Bruce, only had to do it three days a week. After that, life pretty much settled down to annual MRIs to keep an eye on the remaining mass. The whole experience definitely changed my perspective on life however. I now go see doctors when something is wrong. I don't wait and put it off as long as possible. If something doesn't seem right I find a specialist who can tell me what is going on.
2. You are incredible! Though you have never had breast cancer, you have walked and finished eight Avon walks. Who do you walk in honor of?
I walk in memory of Gail Shea who I studied karate with, Teri Proske, a sorority sister of mine, and also in memory of my husband's Aunt Joan, who we love and miss dearly. I also walk in support of all of the survivors at Thousand Waves Karate with whom I studied, and who supported me during my surgery and recovery in '95 and through both my pregnancies until I stopped training in 2004. Finally, I walk in memory and in support of family and friends of anyone else I know who has given me permission to their names to the list I carry during the walk.
Keep the celebration of everyday women ALIVE!
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3. Since 2005, you have participated in Avon walks almost every year. What motivates you to keep signing up?
I think the reason I keep doing it is because it's a fabulous event. It is well run and I have met so many incredible people each time I have done it. So much of what we raise goes to the cause to end breast cancer and in my mind, cancer in general; that I just I have to keep doing it. Unfortunately every year I learn of new people we have lost or people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is just such an evil, evil thing and anything I can do to support that cause is what I do.
4. The walks span 39.3 miles and last two days. What is it like physically and emotionally to endure the long walk?
In the past I had trained for it, but that takes a lot of time. To train you are working towards walking up to 20 miles one day and 10 the next. Since I work, training walks were Saturdays and Sundays. Walking that many miles takes several hours. I tried doing the walk without training one year and learned that I have the same problems with blisters, whether I train or not, so I no longer train. However, I could never make it through all the miles without the people I meet along the walk or the other people cheering us along the way. Back in 2005, the t-shirt we got at the end of the walk says, "We walked, we talked and we made a difference," and I think that's probably the most important thing that I think about every time I'm on the walk. I love meeting and getting to know new people. I also often think of the the movie Finding Nemo and Dori saying, "Just keep swimming, just keep on swimming.” I'm saying in my head, "Just keep walking, just keep walking.”
"I think the most memorable walk I had was when I walked in Chicago, I think in 2010 and on Sunday, I walked with a man in his seventies who was a breast cancer survivor himself."
Actually, it wasn't a woman. I think the most memorable walk I had was when I walked in Chicago, I think in 2010 and on Sunday, I walked with a man in his seventies who was a breast cancer survivor himself. Normally, he walked in New York, but the weekend of the New York walk was his great nephew's Bar Mitzvah and so he couldn't walk that weekend so he came instead to walk in Chicago. He and I walked from the start until lunch time that Sunday and I think that's probably my most memorable experience.
6. Cancer sucks. In 2014, another surgery on your tumor kept you from participating in any Avon walks. How did the first walk back on your feet feel?
So this year, 2015, was the first year I walked an Avon Walk again and it was fantastic. I had a great time in San Francisco walking with my new friends, Michelle and Roberta, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
7. There are so many different walks and runs to support breast cancer. Why is Avon’s Walk to End Breast Cancer your go-to walk?
I think the reason it's my go-to walk is because I started with it and I've been so impressed with the way it is organized and run, the people I've met over the years, and the fact that so much of the money we raise goes to the cause of either research or even more importantly, early detection, especially for the underserved.
8. What nuggets of wisdom would you share with a woman considering signing up for her first long walk? Any tips to help her finish strong?
First of all, be prepared for all types of weather. Have a rain poncho and have extra pairs of socks to change into in case they get wet. I also bring a second pair of shoes a half size larger than the shoes I wear on Saturday, for Sunday, because your feet will swell. I recommend lubricating your feet very well before putting your socks on, and you should wear two pairs of thin wicking socks so the socks aren't rubbing against each other and not against your skin. Next, stay well hydrated with both water and Gatorade. As the saying goes, "Drink, Pee, No IV!"
"I also often think of the the movie Finding Nemo and Dori saying, "Just keep swimming, just keep on swimming.” I'm saying in my head, "Just keep walking, just keep walking.”
I think I'm going to continue being involved with the Avon Walk. It's still a big part of my life. I think my new physical challenge will be with CrossFit. I started training a couple of years ago, but the surgery last year set me back a bit. I look forward to being able to continue to get stronger and more fit.
10. I Admire U, who do you admire?
I admire so many people. In particular, I admire my karate teacher, Nancy Lanoue, who started Thousand Waves Seido Karate ("TW") back in 1985 (under a different name). The school has grown so much and is still going strong and Nancy is still just this incredible woman who does this beautiful art. TW is a not-for-profit that not only teaches Seido Karate, but does all kinds of outreach in the area for self-defense and fitness. Nancy is also a breast cancer survivor as are several of the others who train or have trained at TW.