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Total Force team walks against cancer

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Grant Saylor
  • 446th Airlift Wing
10/1/2008 - MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Master Sgt. Diana Feeley normally wears a size 7 1/2 shoe. Recently, her feet became a picture of pain. Swelling, discoloration and bulging blisters forced her to gingerly don a size 10 open-toed rubber sandal.

Her feet looked like the end result of a dermatology experiment gone terribly wrong... and she couldn't be happier.

The Air Reserve Technician was one of more than 3,300 Seattle-area participants in the 2008 Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Three-Day fundraiser, a 60 mile Sept. 12-14.

Sergeant Feeley walked with a team of eight other women who dubbed themselves the "Breast Savers."

One of her teammates, Master Sgt. Chrisandra Davis, 62nd Operations Group, is a breast cancer survivor, one year removed from chemotherapy treatment. The native of Kent said completing the event was a powerful experience.

"Emotionally, this was way cooler than finishing chemo," said Sergeant Davis.

The families of both women have felt the ravaging effects of cancer. Sergeant Feeley lost her father to cancer two years ago. And Sergeant Davis' sister, mother, and grandmother all suffered from breast cancer.

"You can't help but acknowledge that women really die from this disease," said Sergeant Feeley. "And it has a ripple effect on men and children, too."

Sergeant Davis said she came away from this year's event with an even greater appreciation for her friend.

"Diana defined what the true measure of a friend should be," said Sergeant Davis. "Despite the pain, she never once said 'I don't think I can make it'."

The admiration was mutual.

"I would have done this again for Chris," said Sergeant Feeley. "If we'd had to walk another 60 miles, I'd have said, 'bandage my feet... let's go!' "

Despite the sore muscles and traumatized feet, these Air Force humanitarians have vowed to participate next year, with one slight change. They hope to form an all-McChord team.

"Diana and I only hope to inspire other people to take this incredible journey," said Sergeant Davis.

The two cancer crusaders have pragmatic advice for would-be participants.

"The pain goes away," said Sgt. Davis. Then she paused.

"Although, ibuprofen helps a little."