In college, like many students, my communication with my parents declined. We’d talk by phone once a month, when I’d spill any family-friendly details of my college life.

But my junior year, the calling pattern changed. In one day I received several messages, as did my best friend. It was the day my mother was trying to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had no idea what to say. And in the following weeks and months I also felt at a loss. She lived states away, and I was intent on a 4.0 grade point average. She would say she was doing okay, and I would wonder if she really was.

It’s tough for family and friends to always know how to support those who are sick, or those who are grieving or in pain. My mother is better now, and I am older, and my heart aches in a different way when I think about her now–and how many families have gone through the same thing.

Tomorrow, on Mother’s Day all of our families (and friends and supporters) can come together for the Walk to Empower, held at City Park and sponsored by the Breast Cancer Network of Strength. The walk begins at 9 a.m., and you can sign up as an individual or form a team. The Network of Strength focuses its programming on supporting those who are diagnosed, offering a hotline to answer questions from patients and loved ones.

Thinking back to the day I got the call, I wish I would have known networks like this were out there. But I’m glad to know now how easy it is to support them.

If You Go

Sun, May 10, 9 a.m. City Park, 17th Avenue and Steele Street, official website