SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

Passion for the Cause

Imagine walking down the street and two people approach you; the first one hands you a flier and says, in a monotone voice, that she is raising money for breast cancer and needs your help. A worthy cause, yes, but a worthy attempt at obtaining your support, probably not.

The second person you come across is so full of smile and life it’s almost tangible. She greets you with the same vim and vigor, with a handshake to boot, and politely asks you for your time. Not able to deny such enthusiasm, you listen as she tells her plight to raise awareness in the community about the harmful affects the toxins in our environment have on people. Her passion for the cause is undeniable (key word: Passion). It may not be the spice of life, but it sure as heck can make the world go round.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of talking with two women who work for the Breast Cancer Fund, Beth Strachan and Julie Homan, whose passion for what they do is not only inspiring, but contagious. Their life’s work is filled with a horrific and baffling disease that claims the lives of many and spares the lives of few. Yet despite what many would consider a cloud of doom, Julie and Beth come to work each day knowing that what they do will one day change the bigger picture. That bigger picture is breast cancer and how it can one day be eradicated and become merely just a figment of our past.

The Breast Cancer Fund, started in 1992 in response to the rising concern over breast cancer, is the only national organization focused on the identification, and hopefully elimination, of the environmental causes of breast cancer. There are numerous organizations out there, all very reputable and cause-worthy, that focus their resources on searching for a cure to breast cancer. But what if the causes, both preventable and environmental, could be located? Then wouldn’t a cure be almost a mute point?

Each year the Breast Cancer fund sponsors events, such as the 1st Annual Winter Snowshoe Challenge as well as the Climb Against the Odds, that not only raise money for the ongoing efforts of research, but open our eyes to the environment, our home, and how what is happening on a daily basis could be killing your sister or your mother or even your uncle.

These outdoor events are a voice to many that have survived or are living with breast cancer, but it’s also a reminder that “the environment is about us too,” said Strachan. “How we live each day continues to impact the lives around us. There isn’t just one bad thing out there, there are many.”

Often times we dismiss the use of toxic chemicals in the environment as necessity; however if in the years to come we’d like to see Breast Cancer decline from the America Cancer Society’s estimate that there will be 215,900 new cases of breast cancer in 2004, then the notion of necessity must be reconsidered.

The unifying factor that ties the Breast Cancer Fund and Snowshoe Magazine’s readers together is a mutual love of the outdoors. As avid or novice snowshoers, it can’t be denied that the love of the outdoors and all its beauty is a fundamental part of what you do. On many a morning when few would dare the cold and snow of the winter, the snowshoers (along with other winter sports enthusiasts) strap on their shoes and head out to surround themselves with nature’s beauty and maybe, as an added perk, get a little exercise.

Remember the next time you are out there, whether to snowshoe across drifts of snow-covered hills or merely to take the trash out to the curb, remind yourself of what you can do to limit and possibly prevent the instances of disease such as breast cancer.

Remind yourself of what you can do to help. While many are at a loss for what they can do to help, the Breast Cancer Fund (http://www.breastcancerfund.org) not only provides an abundance of information about the disease, but advises many of us who don’t know much about the disease what we can do to help.

Whether it is simply to learn more about the disease, to request a “Call to Action” (a request sent to Congress to consider expanding breast cancer detection beyond mammograms) or participate in events that raise money and awareness for breast cancer, any little bit helps. When the passion for change that Beth Strachan and Julie Homan possess, it extend beyond the confines of the Breast Cancer Fund. Breast cancer will lose its battle.