Avon Walk L.A.--Sept. 15-16, 2007--1900 walkers--$4.3m

This journal is dedicated to my cousin Phyllis, as it is the anniversary of her death from breast cancer.

I got home today early enough to begin laundry and write the journal.  That is a new experience--no rush to the airport, no quick change of clothes in the car rental bathroom, no worrying about luggage, no rush, rush, rush, wait, wait at the airport!  There is something to be said for a 'home' walk.

The L.A. walk was actually in the Long Beach area in that it began and ended at the Queen Mary.  We walked several miles near the water/beach at the beginning of the route and at the end.  That was the prettiest part to me.  Today, Sunday, was overcast in the morning, which I thought made for better walking weather, a little cooler.  The temperature was in the low 80's by the afternoon each day.

The most special part of the walk was that my daughter Debra, walked every step with me.  My son in law Chris (my computer guy!) and my son David came to surprise Bob on Sat. morning to help him with his signage.  With 3 guys doing the job they finished all 26.3 miles much quicker than usual.  Later in the day my daughter Ronda came with my granddaughters to support the walkers by giving out candy. I so appreciate the support of my whole family. 

Another personal surprise came when I arrived at lunch.  There were Laurie, John and their daughter Gabbie.
Laurie has been my email stalker for at least 5 years!  What is an email stalker? She began sending me emails of support before and after every walk before I even knew her.  I thought I knew who she was, and when I finally had an occasion to actually meet Laurie, I looked at her and had no idea who she was, because I had actually never met her!  Last year in SD Laurie was waiting for me at the end with an artificial bouquet of 70 carnations (so I could enjoy them forever!) to celebrate my 70th walk.  This time she surprised me for my 80th walk.  Gabbie recently talked to her 6th grade class about breast cancer and she has made over 2000 breast cancer paper clip angels to distribute and raise awareness.  This is just one of the wonderful stories of my breast cancer adventures.

Brandon was a guy walking alone and is 27 yrs. old  He was walking for his mother who is a 2 time survivor.  He teaches at the local college and was the only one in his family willing to do this.  It was wonderful sharing some road with you.  I wish you success in your future as a college professor.

When Joan from New Jersey passed me she turned around and asked if I was Barbara Jo Kirshbaum.  She knew my complete name!  She had been following my fundraising progress for several months and had been reading my journals and knew of my current goal.  She was a first time walker and was a fantastic fundraiser herself--she raised $10,000!  Go Joan!!

Steve and Stacy had to shorten their long stride to walk with me on Sat.  They are from the SF area and though Stacy is 4 months pregnant she did most of the event.  Her Mom and Dad were crewing one of the last pit stops and I introduced myself to them.  They had come down from Grass Valley to crew.  Isn't that support incredible?

Debra's friend Renu did the walk with her cousin (6 months pregnant!).  Renu is a recent survivor and a dear friend of my daughter's.  It seems so courageous to have just completed treatment and then to do this walk. That's strength!

I also talked with Rhonda from Dallas.  She is also an Avon rep. in Dallas and was walking in LA.  I look forward to seeing her in New York because she will be crewing there.  She is part of the "Believe Team".

Bob saw a couple of his patients on the walk, who shall remain nameless, because of confidentiality issues!
We actually kept running into one of them and her friend all weekend, several times a day.  It just got to be funny.

On Sun we spoke with Shani Rae and her Mom, Judy.  Shani Rae was diagnosed at 35 yrs. old and has had several surgeries.  She is such a high energy young woman with such a positive attitude.  She said that she is just grateful to be alive and so much has changed since her diagnosis.  She has the most incredible zest for life--you can just feel that in speaking with her.  You are amazing.

Sat. night a flag from soldiers in Iraq ,who walked the same weekend we were walking in SF, was presented.  All the soldiers that did that walk signed an American flag and sent it to the Avon Foundation office.  A young woman in the reserves, who has a brother in Iraq unfurled the flag and saluted it.  It was a very touching moment.

As a sweet moment for Debra, as we were crossing the last street of the day, the moto crew safety guy handed each of us a pink connection ribbon to wear around our necks.  They are given out every 3 minutes of the weekend to remind us all that a diagnosis of breast cancer is made every 3 minutes, and that we are all connected by the cause.  Debra had always wanted a ribbon and since they are given at random, just had never received one. 

I have a 'little time' home and then we are off to NY.  I am definitely on the count-down with 5 walks left!

Remember to remind all the women you know about mammograms and regular self exams.


Barbara Jo Kirshbaum
"I walk because I can't walk away"