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'I just have blisters, stiff joints, it will all heal'

Heather, Derek, David, 11, and Laura, 10, Roberts. Heather walked 60 miles on a 3-day fight against cancer. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010 - Heather Roberts' feet are a mess.

She has a blister on her right big toe, and one on her right heel and they are joined, as she says, by ten friends on her left foot. She isn't complaining though—the blisters are battle scars, a result of walking 60 miles in three days in the fight against cancer. Roberts walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure last weekend and she thinks her feet look pretty good.

"I saw people with road rash as red as any rose and blisters covering their feet from toe to heel," said the 43-year-old Groveland Township resident on Tuesday. "My pain is nothing compared to what women battling cancer have been through. I just have blisters, stiff joints, it will all heal."

Each participant in the 3-Day was required to raise $2,300 to make the trek from the Oakland Community College Farmington Hills campus to the Ford Headquarters in Dearborn. Roberts raised $3,340 by having a bake sale at Belle Ann parent-teacher conferences and through the support of her friends, husband's co-workers, and "getting the word out that I was doing this and every dollar counted."

She was inspired to do the 3-Day by her friend, Cher-Ray Kimler, a 26-year-old who has survived breast cancer— twice.

Roberts began training in March, walking Oakhill Road and the surrounding area. She multi-tasked, too— besides getting her miles in, she picked up trash on the way. At the end of her training, she was walking three to five days per week, 10 to 15 miles at a time.

Her husband, Derek, and two children, David, 11, and Laura, 10, were very supportive and were there to cheer her on at the walk, along with thousands of strangers.

"The walk itself was awesome," said Roberts. "There were signs and ribbons on trees, the power of a child with a sprinkler or someone to hose you down was priceless. It was just something to let you know people care when your feet hurt and blisters are screaming... To read a sign that said thank you was the boost I needed to keep going."

Roberts had no blisters in training and believes the humidity during the actual event was the cause of the ones she has now. Band-Aids and padded tape made her look like she had mummified feet, she says, but they saved her during the walk and helped her to the finish line, as did a sign she saw that reminded her that her blisters would be healed before a woman's cancer would.

"To see family and friends and know I'd completed all 60 miles and every dollar I raised would help for the research for a cure, I'd do it all again tomorrow," said Roberts, who has already signed up for next year's 3-Day.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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