Walking 60 miles in honor of mother

Trek: An Arundel woman joins thousands in a benefit to raise money for breast cancer research.

August 15, 2004|By Mary C. Schneidau | Mary C. Schneidau,SUN STAFF

Kristal Lull remembers many numbers.

Forty-seven was her mother's age when she was found to have breast cancer in October. Twenty was the number of times Lull had to repeat to herself that her mother had the disease for Lull to believe it. Two was the number of surgeries her mother had, followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy and 34 radiation treatments.

This weekend, 60 will be the number that demands Lull's attention.

That is the number of miles the Glen Burnie resident will walk in honor of her mother, Diane McCormick, during the Breast Cancer 3-Day. The event ends today and is expected to draw 2,100 walkers who will trek from northern Virginia to Washington to benefit breast cancer research and raise awareness of the disease.

The participants walk 20 miles a day for three days to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust.

Walkers, supported by volunteers, will get three meals a day, access to showers, portable toilets, tents and round-the-clock medical support. Each walker is required to raise $2,000, and the national Breast Cancer 3-Day is expected to raise $20 million. Breast Cancer 3-Day walks are being held in nine other cities across the country.

Though the Breast Cancer 3-Day will be Lull's most ambitious charity walk, it is not her first. Lull's grandfather had Alzheimer's disease. Her great-grandmother had breast cancer, which kills about 40,000 women a year. Lull and McCormick walked together in several shorter charity walks benefiting research in those areas before McCormick's breast cancer was diagnosed.

Lull, a 28-year-old soil conservation planner, said the Breast Cancer 3-Day is a way for her to be active in the fight against her mother's disease.

"I felt better because I was actually doing something. When my mom was going into surgery, I wasn't doing anything," she said.

McCormick, now 48, works at North Arundel Hospital. She said she appreciates her daughter's dedication.

"It means a lot," she said as she held back tears. "For those who are to follow me, she's doing this to help them find a cure."

Lull and McCormick's story is not unique. Patrice Tosi, the Komen Foundation's chief operating officer, said 10 percent to 20 percent of walkers are breast cancer survivors, and many of the crew members that help staff the event are relatives of women with breast cancer.

The large-scale and ambitious vision of the walk creates a sense of satisfaction for participants, Tosi said.

"It allows people to achieve something they thought they wouldn't be able to," she said.

Walking 20 miles a day did not frighten Lull at first, she said, but raising $2,000 did. She e-mailed friends, wrote to businesses and hoped she could come up with the funds for the walk.

Her work paid off. Lull has raised more than $2,800. Now she said she is a bit concerned about the distance and the heat but is training aggressively to be prepared.

McCormick was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments when training began, so she will not be able to join her daughter for the Breast Cancer 3-Day. But she will be with her in October when the two walk in Baltimore for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.

Next year at the Breast Cancer 3-Day, Lull may have company. "I hope to do it with her," McCormick said.

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