WHEELING - On Feb. 28, Dave Brown set off on a 3,000-mile, cross country journey to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and in remembrance his wife, Joan, who died from the disease.
Walking 14 miles a day, Brown, 61, began in Atlantic City and is using U.S. 40 and another roads to reach San Francisco in October. Via the National Road, he anticipates walking across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge Thursday and reaching Blaine today.
Born and raised in Newark, Ohio, Brown has lived in Valley Forge, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, for the past 40 years. He and his wife loved to walk and were members of the Liberty Bell Wanderers chapter of the America Volkssport Association.
Founded in Germany, volkssporting is a non-competitive personal fitness and recreation program that promotes fun, fitness and friendship, according to the association.
In his website dedicated to the cause - ocjoan.blogspot.com - Brown wrote that he considers himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" to have known his wife for 40 years.
"Before she passed away from the dreaded disease, she told me if there was anything that I could do to use her experience to help other women with ovarian cancer she was for it," he said. "This is the reason for the walk.''
Joan Brown died Aug. 1, 2011, at the age of 58.
"She was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't know why she put up with me," he said while in Triadelphia on Wednesday.
He noted when she was diagnosed and going through treatment, she showed much strength and grace.
"She pulled all of us along. ... She was a trooper," he said.
There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer - just symptoms. If the following signs and symptoms persist for more than two weeks, a woman should see her gynecologist: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; trouble eating or feeling full quickly; feeling the need to urinate urgently or often; fatigue; upset stomach or heartburn; back pain; pain during sex; and constipation or menstrual changes. Risk factors include a personal or family history of colon cancer, increasing age, a genetic predisposition and undesired infertility. Having breast cancer also is an ovarian cancer risk factor.
While walking, Brown hands out business cards from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund that includes a list of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
"If one woman gets help by me doing this walk - that's worth it,'' he said. ''People have been amazingly giving and generous. It's crazy how they've come out to support me."
Brown said because of people's generosity he has already lodging donated to him into the state of Indiana. He quipped that he receives so much food from people that he may end up gaining weight instead of losing it during the trek.