Posted at: 09/25/2013 4:13 PM
Updated at: 09/25/2013 5:56 PM
By: Benita Zahn
"I don't know. I just didn't think it would happen to me." Linda Mitchell Coons is talking about breast cancer. And it did happen. 4 times.
The first time, 23 years ago when she was 36 - the last, this past January.
Her mom had the disease. Then Linda, then her older sister. When her 36 year old niece, Jessica Mitchell was diagnosed the family knew they had to take action. Many of them were tested for the BRCA gene which raises the risk for the disease. Some of them have it. Now what? Along with careful screening to stay healthy, they started walking and raising money for the American Cancer society.
"Because I want to find a cure. I don't want people to go through what I've gone through, what my family's gone through" says Linda.
First they organized a fundraising walk in the family's hometown of Mechanicville in honor of Jessica who lost her battle with the disease 5 years ago, leaving behind two children.
"This is what she'd want me to do" says Linda's sister in law, Jessica's mother.
Then Linda's Striders was formed - a team of more than 20, family and friends, taking the American Cancer Society's 'Making Strides' by storm. They've raised thousands of dollars in the fight against breast cancer.
And when they're not walking, Linda's still raising money.
"I do a dollar a week club .. All year long."
Linda's treatment recently ended and she's being closely watched by her doctor. She says she's walking on egg shells, hoping to avoid a 5th bout of cancer .. But in the meantime, she's still out there, reminding women to take care of their health, consider genetic screening if there's a strong family history and don't forget those who are battling the disease.
"I walk for everyone who has breast cancer."