Meet Howard Phillips

Completing the first day of 26 miles!

Completing the first day of 26 miles!

Why I walk…

On July 11th, 2002 at 9:14 am, my life was changed forever! I have had many changes in my life; getting married, having children, buying a house. But those are the things that happen and happen in a good way.

On February 12th, 2001 we found out that my wife Sue had breast cancer, I knew other people that had breast cancer and they seemed to justget “over” it. Also Sue had previously had other medical problems and they all seemed to work out. So when this happened I did not worry too much and we just went with the flow.

As time went on… it (the cancer) got more serious and Sue got sicker and things just were not going well. She was a trooper and kept up a good appearance and by not showing how much pain she was in. I knew what she was going through, so did my kids and some family that helped her all the time.

Heather, my youngest daughter promised her mom (Sue) that she would walk in the breast cancer walk. The one that she signed up for was a three day sixty mile walk. By the time the walk came around Sue had already passed. I was so proud of Heather for doing that walk the first year. She went on to do more walks and one day while I was probably sitting on the couch doing nothing, Heather said she had a problem getting people to walk with her while she trained and asked if I would train with her. I decided to do it and told her I would. She said ok but you have to walk fast to train with me.

Heather and I trained and trained and trained. Soon I was pushing her and getting her up at the crack of dawn and we walked and walked and walked.

I was so pumped up for that first walk I did with Heather. It was the Avon Breast Cancer walk in Long Beach 39 mile two day walk. It was very hot out so it was neat that you could stop at every pit stop and rest and eat and just have a great time. We stopped at one pit stop that had little wading pools that you could take your shoes off and just let them cool down and soak.

I got to about 14 miles and my feet started to feel like my socks were getting all wrinkled up inside. My legs started getting numb and I just was having a very difficult time walking. It seemed like miles between each mile marker. The dreadful van that they call the sweeper van kept coming around and asking if I am ok. I would tell them yes, even though I was not ok. Finally around 21 or 22 miles I started crying my eyes out. HOW COULD I NOT EVEN MAKE IT ON THIS WALK WHEN MY WIFE WENT THROUGH ALL THAT PAIN AND SEEMED LIKE SHE COULD HANDLE ANYTHING!

You just have to put your arms up and cross them and the sweeper van will pick you up and take you to the next stop. Of course they were nowhere around now that I really need them, it seemed like eternity and then there they were. I put my arms up and crossed them, they stopped picked me up and took me to the ending. While in the van and seeing the rest of the route I could not believe how much further it was to the end.

When I walked in to the park where the end was for the day, everyone was clapping for me. I kept putting my hand up like to say stop. I was saying to myself, I am a loser; I did not even complete this thing.

I sat down in the medical tent waiting for a nurse to attend to my feet because by now I had the biggest blisters possible on both my feet. When the nurse started popping my blisters, I started to black out, the doctor came over and took my pulse and told everyone to relax and let’s get this guy to lay down on a cot for a while. After a while I felt better and I had the nurse continue working on my feet. They said that the feeling of not walking anymore and the popping of the blisters gave me so much relief that I just gave in right then and there!

I headed for my tent for the night and just couldn’t walk. Family and friends were helping me but it just couldn’t happen. Finally with some prodding I decided I would go home to rest and come back in the morning. Well, the paramedics had to wheel me to someone’s car and I went home and slept like a baby and there was no way I was going to walk the next day. I did come back and cheer Heather on in at the end.

I promised myself from that point on that I would continue with the walks and I WILL MAKE IT THROUGH THE WHOLE WALK!

I decided that I needed to train better, by exercising, walking more and not stopping at the pit stops on the route. I now make it through the walks and only stop once on the Saturday at my daughter Malia’s pit stop for lunch. If not for lunch I would walk the entire 26.2 miles without stopping. On Sunday I walk the 13.1 miles without stopping.

Now I do the walking every year for the last eight years! Heather has retired from walking. I feel like if I stop, the whole fundraising would not happen. I feel like if I stop walking and the next person stops walking and so on, that breast cancer will get worse and worse. If I keep walking and others keep walking and we keep fundraising to get more research and development, maybe one day breast cancer will be a thing of the past.


– By Howard Phillips

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