Angels wearing sneakers

Doing something tangible – walking, “flocking,” working as a team, fundraising, pooling resources to fund the prevention, better treatment, and cure for cancer – creates an atmosphere of comradeship and effectiveness in the face of an ominous and life-threatening disease.

As “Island Girl” Judi Madan says, participating in the Susan J. Komen Foundation’s 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer is, in itself, “life-changing” for the better.

On Orcas Island, the Island Girls’ walkers and crew for the Susan J. Komen 3-Day in September, and the Relay for Life Orcas teams are walking, talking, raising awareness, and honoring those who have been diagnosed with and treated for cancer. The two groups energize the rest of us to be a part of their mission to ease the physical and emotional pain that cancer causes in women, men, and children.

For those participating in the 3-Day and the Relay for Life, these 60 miles and overnight relays are preceded by months of fundraising, organization, communication – and the fun of companionship. Teams and individuals dedicate hours of physical exertion so that they are up to the task of the events that will take place in July and September. They connect with others so that they can deliver the message for large numbers of people, and not just for themselves, that we care about supporting the thousands of women we know who are affected by breast cancer.

“Do Something Bold,” the 3-Day organization urges. Be a part of the good news of advances in cancer prevention, treatment and cure, in memory of those no longer with us and in hope for those coming after us. Maximize the individual impact on the fight against breast cancer.

Send that flock of pink plastic flamingos flying around the island. Join that scavenger hunt. Buy at the bakes sales and barbecues and other events planned. And consider membership on the teams, or sponsorship for a team.

Together, with our friends, family and co-workers, we form a force even greater than that which we could accomplish by ourselves.

We celebrate community in good times and bad. We’re there with words of comfort, transportation, babysitting, advice and hot meals. But still, for one in eight women, there comes to them alone that frightening call from their doctor; “I want to discuss your results with you,” followed by months of uncertainty, “always looking over your shoulder, living from test to test, never feeling completely safe,” as one cancer patient said last week.

“It’s a bonus to know that, just by walking and getting to see Orcas Island up close and personal, it is helping someone, including myself!” said Bev Madan, participant in the 3-Day walk.

The Island Girls carry a banner along the way that lists the names of Orcas Island women who have been treated for breast cancer – some 30 people.

Teri Alent, of the Orcas Relay for Life team, says, “Cancer never sleeps, and neither do we.” Their round-the-clock relay in July will bring awareness of breast cancer, and support for those it claims, home to Orcas Islanders.

We should support them whole-heartedly, as they speak, hurt, walk, and laugh for us. As the 3-Day website says, “Everyone deserves a lifetime.”