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Putting on my walking shoes


Several months ago I was talking to a friend about the logos that you find on T-shirts. You would think that if you’re using your chest as a billboard, you’d really think about what you are wearing. Talk turned to her recent bout with cancer and how grateful she felt that she conquered the disease. We spoke about how facing that kind of physical challenge enhances your viewpoint of life overall, realizing the value of taking an unhindered breath while at the same time recognizing the angst we have over things that truly are inconsequential. We both acknowledged, though, how easy it is to forget the euphoria of being alive as we become sucked into the quagmire of everyday life.

We agreed that something along those lines — “I’m cancer-free” or “I beat it!” — would be a great logo for a T-shirt and a reminder to the wearer and those that saw it that this was a warrior who survived a life-or-death battle. At the very least, remind everyone not to sweat the petty things and not to pet the sweaty things.

The cancer battle is fought on many fronts and this weekend I will be found on one of the battlefields — at Clark Magnet High School for the annual Foothills Relay For Life.


Simply put, Relay For Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. It’s a 24-hour event held around the nation. At Clark, teams will be scattered around the track. For 24 hours, at least one member of each team will be on the track, walking. According to its website, Relay For Life is a “life changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people.”

Undoubtedly those 3.5 million people have been touched by cancer.

I know I have.

My brother-in-law won his fight. My father-in-law did not. Neither did my mom.


I really don’t know what to expect over the weekend. I know that the Crescenta Valley Rotary Club will be on hand, preparing lunch and breakfast. I know that a lot of my friends and neighbors have signed up to participate. I’ve been told that the atmosphere is celebratory, that we will be celebrating and encouraging the ones that are fighting cancer, and remembering those who lost the fight. The event also celebrates the caregivers because, as one who has been there, that’s a tough business, too.

It’s estimated that our Clark event will be one of 4,800 Relays nationwide. Relay For Life opens with cancer survivors taking the first lap. I understand that it is pretty emotional and sets the tone for the following 24 hours. Saturday night is the “Luminaria Ceremony of Hope” held after dark to honor cancer survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer. The luminaria candles line the track and are left burning throughout the night to remind participants of the incredible importance of their contributions.

I am part of Team Karen along with several friends and acquaintances in the area. I was talking to my captain, Holly Heurkins, and she told me to encourage my friends and family to come out to Clark so they can walk, too. They don’t have to make any big time commitment, but can just stop by to visit and encourage or to hit the track and show support.

The weather reports predict hot temperatures this weekend, but I’m not scared.

I’d rather battle the heat than the disease.

Visit to learn more or to make a donation.


is the city editor for the Crescenta Valley Sun. She welcomes your comments at or by phone at (818) 790-8774 x14.