jillianduch

From Jillian: Julie is a fellow Ms. America Tata, and her husband, Rich, is our lone male member (so far!) They walked together in the Chicago event this weekend. She shared her experiences with me as my first guest writer.

I am a 5 year survivor TODAY!! 5 years ago today, Aug 10, 2004, I received the call from the doctor's office with my diagnosis.

To celebrate my 5 years as a survivor, Rich and I thought what better to celebrate than to do the 3-day together and to make it even more special walk in a different city too! We have officially walked 60 miles as of yesterday. We walked in the Chicago 3-day on Aug 7-9...

The weather was rough, but we made the best of it and had an awesome journey together! On day 1 the weather started out beautiful but around 11:00 the rain started and didn't stop ALL DAY, fortunately most of the day was just a gentle rain! We wore our rain ponchos to help stay somewhat dry which didn't help our feet stay dry so needless to say our feet were soaked. The wetness didn't cause blisters on my feet but Rich wasn't so lucky. He had a couple doozies!


When we got to camp on day 1 we gathered our tent and assembled it and then went back to find our bags, which were outside all day in the rain under plastic. We had everything packed in plastic, good thing! The only thing I wish I would have done was make sure to wrap everything in my bag with plastic like my pillow and blanket. Had to sleep with a damp blanket and pillow but wasn't so bad, so tired it didn't really matter!


Day 2...woke up early for a shower, the rain had stopped...but at breakfast it started up again...ugh! We started day 2 in the rain but by noon the sun came out and the heat was turned up. That night we slept with our tent open for fresh air...a little hot but we had a nice breeze! Day 3...dry but VERY hot! We walked under hazardous weather conditions, it was over 100 degrees heat index. The windy city gave us a nice breeze once in a while which felt GREAT! We walked all the way to the finish line at Soldier Field with a very emotional reception of hundreds of people cheering us on...I balled my eyes out! As I walked through that reception line all I could think about is how blessed and thankful I am to be a survivor!!

Closing ceremonies is even more of an emotional time for me....the salute to the survivors is awesome...all the walkers hold up their shoes to show their support for all us survivors! All in all the 3 day is an amazing event, the Chicago walk raised 5 million dollars! It's so awesome to be a part of such an amazing organization, one that you KNOW is making a difference in the fight against breast cancer! Here are a couple of pictures I think you'll enjoy!

By Julie Spiekhout
(future Ms. Indiana Tata for the DC walk)
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