For me, Perrie Adams' story illustrates the 3-Day saying: We are strong because the journey demands it. She's the winner of our Pink Lemonade necklace giveaway, and a powerful reason to hit the road and walk today. Perrie Adams, I raise my shoe to you!

On October 8, 2004, I was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer. I was 34-years-old, 16 weeks pregnant with twins, and a mother to a 5 year old daughter. In one year, I received 8 chemo treatments (3 of which while pregnant!), 4 surgeries (mastectomy while pregnant,emergency c-sect, full hysterectomy, another mastectomy with a full TRAM reconstruction) , birthed premature twin boys (they arrived the day before my 35th birthday on 12/23/04) and 35 radiation session treatments. My plate was full to say the least.

It isn't really until now that I can see what a challenge that year was. It is by God's grace, a positive attitude, strong faith, many prayers, lots of love and support from family, friends, neighbors and strangers that I am cancer-free and am able to walk in this incredible journey of LIFE! My hair has returned, scars have healed--no one "sees" my story anymore. My busy 4-year-old boys are also thriving although they have a few special needs, and my beautiful daughter is now 9.

My grandmother and mother both died of breast cancer. My sister Kalie was diagnosed 3 months before me at the age of 40. She, too, is cancer free now. Unfortunately we both carry the hereditary BRAC-2 gene.

In October of 2006 I walked in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk for a cure. I personally raised over $10,000 that year. I walked so my three children will one day escape this disease. I walked to honor all of you who believed I could beat the odds. I walked for all those who took care of my loved ones and me. I walked for my loving and devoted husband, Patrick who is "my rock" and who told me "Everything is going to be all right." I walked so that another woman does not face this diagnosis during pregnancy. I walked for all those touched by this disease. I walked for all of my fantastic doctors who got me through the scariest time in my life. I walked for faith, hope and love--( my motto). I walked because I could. I hope to walk again this October to celebrate my 5 year survivorship.

On the flip side of this incredible experience, I have to say nothing really prepares you for this life-changing disease. I had to learn that 1) I could not manage it all by myself 2) I needed to let people (even strangers) into my life to help me... meals, prayer, support etc 3) As a mother, I had to fight with EVERYTHING I had. I learned that I am strong even on my weakest days. 4) Life continues on even while you have cancer 5) Cancer was an incredible lonely experience despite having so many people descend on your life...it's you vs. the cancer and 6) in the rush of trying to keep some level of "normalcy" and keeping up with a "busy" life (surgeries, kids, husband, doctors etc) there were a lot of things I did not have time to examine or evaluate. Now that I am almost 5 years out, this huge thunderstorm of my life has cleared but definitely has left its mark on my day-to-day life.

One thing that I don't think a lot of people talk about is the financial stress of enduring breast cancer when you have small children. The debt that we have incurred is a big one because we had to spend so much money on child care . For example, initially when my boys came home from the NICU I hired a baby RN that was experienced in preemies and in twins... at $20.00/hr! I had to have someone I could fully count on to take care of my kids when I was going through chemo, treatments, surgeries etc. After the twins were big enough, I found another nanny for $15.00/hr.

It was all worth it in order for me to heal and for my 3 kids to have something steady in their lives during a very chaotic time. But now we have to chip away at this debt that we have incurred... a constant reminder of some of the sacrifices we made. I try to keep everything in perspective and know the gift I have of life.

I will turn 40 this December... I have marked this my transformation year... I feel now that I can focus on my good health, lose this extra weight that has piled on, accept my battle scars, learn to love myself and finally figure out what "to do" with this experience so that I can help others have hope when they are going through something similar. A lot of work still ahead but it is all so exciting! I think I am in for my biggest emotional transformation yet!

Thanks for allowing me to share my story! http://www.the3day.org/goto/perrieadams

(From Jill: You can share the reasons you walk or your experiences with breast cancer by e-mailing me at jillianduch@hotmail.com)
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