Several of you have been asking for details on how Brooke Estrada's Avon Walk for breast cancer went last June. I have received a letter from her detailing all the wonderful things that happened during her preparation for the walk and over the course of that weekend. I am excited to share it with you. Enjoy!
My Avon Walk with God by Brooke Estrada
Inspiration is Just around the Corner
Several months before the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer took place in Colorado on June 27th and 28th, I was experiencing a severe lack of motivation. First, my walking partner from last year announced that she would be unable to participate in this year’s walk. To make matters worse, the poor economy had affected most of my friends and family very negatively. Several sponsors from last year were now unemployed, which discouraged me from asking for their support this year.
As you can imagine, I became discouraged with the whole situation; I was without a partner for the walk and almost everyone I knew was broke. For weeks, I was doing a lot of soul-searching in order to re-ignite my passion for fighting breast cancer; it seemed my flame had gone out.
Then, in February of this year – with the help of my weekly women’s bible study – I realized that I was looking inward for something that could only be found upward. I had been looking at this year’s Avon Walk as a duty instead of a labor of love, but the love that I possessed within myself was so limited. So, I decided to pray for God to give me His heart and help me love others the way he does. As long as I was doing this for God’s people with love in my heart, I could shine the light of Jesus Christ into the lives of those who had been directly impacted by breast cancer, giving them new hope.
With that, I started searching for an inspiring t-shirt that I could wear as I trained, so that everyone would know what I was doing and why. It proved very frustrating to find a faith-based t-shirt with the right message. I’ve seen my share of “inspirational” mottos throughout these breast cancer rallies, but none of them really spoke of the hope and strength that only comes from God. Slogans like “I Fight like A Girl”, “Think Pink” “Hope” and “Cancer Sucks” were cute yet lacking originality and depth. After several mind-numbing hours of searching, I stumbled upon the perfect t-shirt. Upon it was written, “GOD – So Much Bigger than Cancer”. It said the exact message I was trying to bring to the people: no matter what kind of hardship you are enduring, God is in control and He will bring you through it.
I excitedly followed the link to what I thought would be an online super-store where I could indulge in all of my Jesus-freak paraphernalia, but instead it was a blog written by a woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her name is Kerry Osborne and since the day I discovered her uplifting t-shirt, I have followed her amazing breast cancer journey through her online diary. After reading all of Kerry’s blog entries that day I decided to write her an e-mail, expressing my thanks and support for her mission. I was so moved by her courage through Christ; it both humbled and inspired me. If a person amidst the battle for their life could stare adversity in the face and say “God is bigger than you”, then I could certainly do the same! God had sent me a message through Kerry: “He is Bigger than Cancer” and it was now my turn to pass it on.
Defeating Doubt with Faith
Days went by and turned into weeks and as the weeks passed I could feel myself slipping again. I was short of sponsors and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with the money to participate in the Avon Walk. I continued to train and solicit my friends and family for donations, but I was so uncomfortable about asking people to spare money they likely didn’t have for a cause they probably didn’t care about. I started to pray; asking God if He really wanted me to go to Colorado. He didn’t say anything. So then I started wondering if this was God’s will or mine? For weeks and weeks God was quiet about the walk and I kept asking him if this was the right think to do. With 4 weeks before the event, I had resolved that if God really wanted me to go on this walk in Colorado, He would allow me to raise $720 more in order to reach my minimum goal. Two days later I spoke to my dear friend Deana Campbell, who informed me that she and her husband Steve decided to donate the remaining $720! I was flabbergasted! Deana and Steve had already donated $500 earlier that year which meant that they had contributed nearly 70% of my total needed funds. However, even with the minimum fundraising goal being met, I was still having doubts. For those remaining 4 weeks, I searched God’s Word and found great reassurance recited this prayer, daily: “Father God, I don’t know what you have planned for the Avon Walk. I just pray that whatever happens, it will bring glory to you. While I am in Colorado, please show me someone who needs to hear from you. Fill me with your Spirit that I may have words of love and encouragement for them; entrust me to be your hands and feet”. I didn’t know what would happen after that, I just knew I had to keep on praying and believing that great things would happen.
“Somewhere, Somebody Needs a Reason to Believe” – Britt Nicole
I arrived in Denver on Thursday, June 25th and stayed the night with my friends Yvette and Phil. The next morning, Yvette dropped me off downtown to catch a shuttle to Keystone, where the event would begin, some 90 miles from Denver. As I waited for the bus, a smiling woman with 2 braids and a silly sun-hat approached me and asked if I was waiting for the Avon shuttle too. Her name was Amy; a weather forecaster in the Air National Guard, who was walking in honor of her grandmother; a breast cancer survivor. We boarded the bus when it arrived and talked almost the entire ride to Keystone. Once we got off the bus, we were like old friends on a weekend adventure. We checked in at the event and into our respective hotels, before meeting up for an early dinner at a steakhouse located in her hotel. After dinner, it was too late to walk around outside, but too early too sleep. We hung out in her hotel room, sitting on opposite ends of a small couch, talking about how the paths of our youth had brought us to our current, respective lifestyles.
When the time had come to explain how I ended up in Las Vegas where I currently reside, the words just started falling out of my mouth. I began telling Amy about my gradual slip into spiritual darkness in my early twenties. I told her that I’d managed to claw myself back onto my feet, but it wasn’t until I established a sold foundation of faith in Jesus Christ that my life began to take on real purpose. I then started telling Amy about my new life in Christ. I could feel the energy in the room rise, as my tale transitioned from one of desperation and hopelessness, to the account of my re-birth. I spoke of the many amazing things God had done in my life and how I have come to love Him so deeply.
I didn’t realize it, but I had been sharing my testimony for the first time, nonetheless to a woman I scarcely knew. When I looked across the couch at Amy’s face, I was surprised to see her eyes streaming with tears but her face was filled with joy. She said, “I feel like this trip has nothing to do with breast cancer; I think I was supposed to find you.” Amy went on to describe her own spiritual emptiness to me. She admitted that she had always been a “very cerebral” person, needing an explanation for everything. Even though, she couldn’t explain God, she knew he existed. I remembered something my friend Teresa said, “I don’t want a God I can explain because that would make him so small”. Amy confessed that although she had not endured severe hardships in her life like some and had been blessed many times over, she always felt something was missing in her life. I remembered having that same “God-shaped hole” before I came to know Christ and really understood where she was coming from. We conversed late into the night and at the end of our long chat, she expressed how unburdened she felt; no longer a slave to her anger and past hurts. Amy said, “Meeting and talking with you has been an answer to a prayer I never spoke”. I know it’s because God knows our hearts; He knows every prayer before we speak it. I am so humbled that God used me to answer that prayer and I am thankful that he answered my prayer for that weekend, too.
Amy and I walked the whole 26.2 miles side-by-side; it was definitely a weekend that we will both remember for years to come. We still keep in touch and I am ecstatic to announce that she is actively pursuing her relationship with Jesus! Amen!