"I've always had a fear of dying," said Lissa Anderson. "Women in my family have died from various cancers."

It was a fear that also kept the Tuolumne resident from performing her monthly self-exam for breast cancer.

When her doctor would ask her if she had been doing the exams on a regular basis, she would answer "Um, yeah," she said. "When I remember to."

Now, she remembers to.

Anderson, 31, does not have breast cancer. She's never had it.

But she thinks about it a lot.

So does Suzanne DeLacy.

DeLacy lost her sister-in-law to breast cancer; she never had the opportunity to meet her mother-in-law for the same reason. Breast cancer has touched others in her life, including her sister.

Cindy Niebla's mother, Beula Parks, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She moved her mother to Sonora from Glenns Ferry, a small town in rural Idaho, so she could watch over her, make sure she made her doctor's appointments. Niebla's mother lived with her and her husband for six months.

And she pulled through.

These women have a lot in common. Each is married and has children. Each has experienced, in one form or another, breast cancer.

And they are among 20 or so Tuolumne County women taking part in a three-day walk July 12 to 14 from Santa Clara to San Francisco. Sixty miles long, the walk is one of 13 similar events around the country, including three in California. Sponsored by Avon, the cosmetics giant, the event is a fund-raiser for breast cancer research and an educational opportunity for the women involved.

It's not a light commitment. Each participant must raise $1,900 in pledges. They train for months, getting themselves in shape to walk 20 miles a day.

They get blisters, they take time away from their families to train.