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Breast cancer survivor celebrates with 3-day walk
0824CANCER
Buffy Brunner, left, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. She has now been cancer free for 10 years, and to celebrate, Brunner and her daughter, Tina Bennett, are celebrating by walking in the Atlanta Breast Cancer 3-Day, which raises money and awareness for the disease. - photo by KATIE DUNN

Atlanta Breast Cancer 3-Day

  • What: Two local women plan to walk in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer 3-Day in Atlanta, which helps raise money and awareness for breast cancer
  • When: Oct. 23-25
  • Contact: www.the3day.org.
Surviving cancer is no small feat, and Buffy Brunner knew she needed to celebrate her 10 years of being free of breast cancer in a memorable way.

But the 55-year-old chose not to quietly mark the anniversary with a small family gathering or a monetary donation to fund cancer research and treatment.

Instead, the Braselton resident chose a more vocal option that blended family and fundraising: She decided to walk 60 miles in three days with her daughter, Tina Bennett, in the 2009 Atlanta Breast Cancer 3-Day.

Together, Brunner and Bennett, 38, will take to the streets this October to raise awareness and money in the name of breast cancer research.

"I knew that for me, I wanted to do that walk for 10 years, and (there’s) nothing better than doing it with her (Bennett)," said Brunner.

The walk raises money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust, both of which support breast cancer research, treatment, prevention and education.

Scheduled for Oct. 23-25, the Atlanta event will be one of 15 held in cities across the U.S. from July through November. Together, the series of walks "will generate millions of dollars to fund critical breast cancer research, education and community health programs," according to the event Web site.

Brunner, Bennett and their team, Babes for Boobs & Gents for Jugs, will join an estimated 4,000 other walkers in a journey beginning along the shores of Lake Lanier and ending at Turner Field.

"It’s supposed to be such an amazing experience," said Bennett, a Hoschton resident.

In 1999, Brunner was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, a cancer that the American Cancer Society touts as the "most common type of non-invasive breast cancer."

According to the society’s Web site, "1 in 5 new breast cancer cases will be DCIS" and "nearly all women diagnosed at this early stage of breast cancer can be cured."

Brunner said the cancer was detected early, and on June 22, 1999, after undergoing a mastectomy, she entered into remission.

Walking laps at West Jackson Park on a recent 90 degree Saturday afternoon, Brunner said she is thankful for still being cancer free.

"Every day’s a challenge," she said, her voice breaking slightly. "And the more years you have, the more chance you have of cancer not being the death of you. A lot of us have it, and this is what the race is all about, it’s to raise money to detect it earlier and earlier."

The mother/daughter duo must raise $2,300 each in order to be able to walk in October. Bennett has reached her goal, but Brunner is still about $400 short.

The entire team is selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: "Fight like a Girl," as well as baked goods and Tupperware products to raise $23,000 for the cause.

This goal, said Bennett, is no small feat considering the country’s ongoing recession and the fact that as family members, both she and her mother are asking the same people for donations.

The final monetary amount doesn’t matter as much to Brunner, though, compared to who the money will help. "If the money that we raise saves one person’s life, it is worth it," she said.

With 10 weeks until the trek begins, Bennett said she and her mother are walking 10 miles a day, as well as taking kickboxing classes to help boost their endurance.

Bennett said her goal for the event is to "walk the whole 60 (miles)," while Brunner said she is just thankful to be able to participate in an event so many others suffering from cancer may not get the chance to experience.

"I lost a breast, but that’s just a breast," she said. "I have my life."

For more information or to donate, e-mail Bennett at hoschtongirl@yahoo.com or Brunner at buffy_brunner@yahoo.com. Donations can also be made by visiting www.the3day.org and searching for either Bennett’s or Brunner’s name.

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