Survivor walks to help those without insurance

Two hundred teams will be hitting the streets of San Francisco for next weekend’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

One of those teams, first-time Avon participants Mercy for Breasts, is a group of five best friends from Burlingame’s Mercy High School class of 1980.

Cancer-free for three years, Bonnie Gordon of the Mercy team considers herself “the luckiest person walking on the face of the Earth” and feels “the experience helped me define what is important in my life.”

Blessed to be surrounded and supported by a large family and her BFF’s from Mercy, Gordon is also grateful for the good fortune of having a strong insurance policy.

The San Mateo native gives credit to her “fantastic” medical team — oncologist Kent Adler, plastic surgeon John Griffin and radiologist Harriet Borofsky — and is raising funds so those fighting breast cancer with no insurance may benefit from high-quality care similar to what she experienced.

“The outcome might have been different,” Gordon said, referring both to her insurance coverage and the collaborative approach of her doctors. “Everybody needs to participate and advocate for themselves. Drive the bus; don’t just ride along.”

Training for the Avon Walk has taken a back seat to the former mortgage broker’s current occupation, full-time caretaker for her ailing parents.

She and three of her Mercy for Breasts teammates completed the 9-mile Avon training walk on Mother’s Day, but more preparation is needed for next weekend’s marathon-and-a-half walk, 39 miles in the two days.

“I’m not getting as many miles as I’d like to, but think that I can tough it out,” Gordon said. “I’m sure that I’ll be recuperating for a while afterwards. It’s one of those things that you set your mind to, and do.”

Water Dog Lake Park and Arguello Canyon are among the favored training locales. Her canine companion is another source of Gordon’s gratitude.

“My best walking partner is Bear, my big giant mutt,” Gordon said. “He’s always happy to go with me when no one else wants to go for a walk. There is no greater comfort, almost, than a dog, a constant companion that is always happy and up.”

The scene is certain to be one of celebration as the thousands of walkers converge on Fort Mason very early Saturday morning to raise awareness, and money, for a cancer that one in eight women will develop in their lifetimes.

“It’s kind of a wonderful club that you don’t want to be invited to,” Gordon said.


Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

WHEN: Saturday-Sunday

SCHEDULE: 26.2 miles on Saturday, 13.1 miles on Sunday

ROUTE: Fort Mason will serve as the walk’s starting point on Saturday and the finish line on Sunday

MERCY FOR BREASTS TEAM: Lisa Boyer, Lynne Dible, Julie Englehart, Bonnie Gordon, Felicia Rodriguez


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