It's been a year since a pink lemonade stand brought together a Maple Grove neighborhood in support of a neighbor's battle with breast cancer. Amber Johnson found out she had cancer two months before, and she was amazed at her community's willingness to help her family.
A year later, Amber Johnson has had several surgeries, 20 rounds of chemotherapy, and seven weeks of radiation. But she's stilll inspired at her community's generosity.
Johnson is part of a team named "Cancervive," which is pronounced "can survive" that honors people battling cancer. The nine person team Cancervive raised around $20,000 to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in the Twin Cities.
"I can do this but I'm not doing it for myself," said Johnson. "I'm doing it for all the young mothers I met on my journey."
When Johnson heard a friend forming a team for the walk in her honor, she knew she had to get involved.
"We originally were Team Amber, but [Amber] called me and said we have to change the name, because I can't have it be all about me," said Kirsten Prouty, team captain.
While the team was originally intimidated at raising the more than two thousand dollars per walker that is required to register in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, they found the fundraising actually came easy.
"We all met our [fundraising] goals before the deadline," said Prouty. "I think the biggest part for us was trying to find time to train."
The team would meet for long hikes where they would condition their bodies and grow closer in spirit.
"There was no cheering, no stops, just doing the march for 15 miles," said Amber Johnson on the first day of the Walk. "This is such a different experience. It carries you to the end, I'm sure."
Johnson says the cheering stations scheduled along the route boosted the spirits of the walkers. Another cancer survivor on Cancervive, Jennifer Thorup, agrees. "It's like you are a rock star. It's great," said Thorup. "It's really truly amazing and very uplifting."
The grueling and sometimes emotional trek is similar at each of the 14 nationwide locations of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. It kicks off with a special ceremony on the first day of walking. Along the route, family members, friends, and supporters hold signs, cheer, and even chant for the walkers. Each day walkers travel around 20 miles. At the close of each day, participants mingle and participate in activities that are designed to inspire. A closing "victory walk" and ceremony ends the event on the third day.
"The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a life changing journey," said Dr. Sheri Phillips, spokesman for the event. "It is for men and women who are completely dedicated to playing a role in the fight to end breast cancer."
More than 1400 walkers participated in the ninth year of the Twin Cities event. To learn more or to sign up for next year's walk, visit www.The3Day.org
Shannon Slatton, reporting
August 24, 2012