Whether you've been personally touched by the disease or know someone who has, breast cancer affects all women and the people who love them.
According to Center for Disease Control Statistics, breast cancer, after non-melanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in women -- in 2004, more than 40,000 women in the United States lost their lives to the disease.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for Hispanic women, and the second deadliest for white, black, Asian/Pacific islander and American Indian/Alaska native women. And although it is far less common, breast cancer claims male victims, too.
In short, breast cancer is a disease that does not discriminate.
So if you're looking for a good reason to wrangle your girlfriends of all colors, shapes and sizes, why not consider a weekend of bonding, centered around one of America's many annual breast cancer fundraising walks?
Walks are scheduled throughout the year in cities across the country -- from Boston to Houston, and Cleveland to San Diego. Depending on the length of the walk, you'll need to train for several months in advance. And motivating each other to get out and walk is another way to stay connected with your best girls even if you're living in different cities.
"My friend Sarah in Washington, DC, came up with the idea," said Janet Malin, 29, of Tampa, FL, who participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Tampa in 2006 along with 2 high school friends.
"We'd never trained for any kind of walk or run before, so we thought it would be fun to motivate each other and tackle the challenge together," said Malin, adding that she began training for the walk several months in advance, and that it helped motivate her to get back in shape after the birth of her first child.
Fund-raising is part of many breast cancer walks; Malin raised $2,800 after emailing friends and family to help with the cause.
"We felt a sense of accomplishment and were proud we'd raised the money to go toward research for such an important cause," said Malin, "It was the first time my friends and I got together to bond for a cause like this. Everyone knows someone who's been touched by breast cancer. I didn't do it in honor of one particular person, but for all the people who are affected by breast cancer."
For Malin's friends from Washington, DC, just the chance to come to Florida during the perfect-weather month of October was a vacation in itself, she said.
Follow Travel Channel's lead for a weekend of bonding in the name of battling breast cancer.
Breast Cancer 3-Day Benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Destination: Tampa Bay, Florida
This 3-day event takes place during the spring, summer and autumn months in 14 cities, among them Atlanta, Philadelphia, the Twin Cities and Tampa Bay. Participants are required to raise at least $2,200 per person, with 85% of the net proceeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. You'll walk 60 miles over 3 days -- anywhere from 15 to 22 miles per day -- then spend 2 nights sleeping in a tent community complete with showers and dining tents. No, it's not glamorous. But after you put in all the hard work, treat yourself to some indulgences. To recuperate after the event, base yourself by the beach in funky St. Petersburg (a 30-minute drive from downtown Tampa), home to a hip arts district and the decadent Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, where the spa offers every indulgence to get your feet, body and mind back in gear. A cool spot in St. Pete for sangria and tapas with your entourage is Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant in the boutique Ponce de Leon Hotel.
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
Destination: Various US Cities
With events scheduled from April through October in 9 cities, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Charlotte, the Avon Walk packs 39 miles into 2 days. In 2007, more than 20,000 people participated in the walk to raise more than $47 million dollars to fund breast cancer research. If you and your girlfriends participate in the weekend-long walk in Charlotte, NC, treat yourselves by extending your stay at least a day to recuperate in the Queen City's fabulous dining and spa scene. Mimosa Grill is a trendy uptown destination where international fare gets the Deep South treatment. And one of the most ambrosial spa destinations is Urbana Cityspa & Teabar, a minimalist loft space with soothing art, music and loose-leaf teas o'plenty. It's massages-only at Urbana, but that's precisely what the doctor ordered after a weekend on your feet. Book in for the Olympian massage -- 30 minutes is all it takes to rejuvenate overworked muscles with Swedish and deep-tissue techniques.