She'd discovered an alarming lump on the first day of February.
Campbell underwent a mammogram on Feb. 24 that confirmed she had Grade 3, Stage 2 breast cancer. She had surgery April 12. She then braved chemotherapy and radiation treatments, wrapping up the latter in December 2011.
Through it all, the 50-year-old mom of three never missed a beat.
She attended her son's high school graduation, hosted a party for him and kept a positive attitude in the midst of chemotherapy treatments. She's now cancer-free.
"It's not something I ever, ever wish on anybody, and that's why hopefully we can find a cure and just eradicate this," Campbell said.
That desire to beat breast cancer permanently has united thousands of survivors, family members of victims and other crusaders.
Since 2003, more than 200,000 advocates have walked in the 3-Day series, which is now organized by the Susan G.
Komen For the Cure foundation.
The 60-mile, three-day walk raises money for national breast cancer research, health outreach programs and local community organizations.
Walkers participated in 14 nationwide walks in 2011 and raised more than $82 million, according to the foundation.
Each walker is asked to raise $2,300.
This year, one of the top fundraising groups for the Chicago event Aug. 10-12 is Power in Pink, a group of 14 Springfield area residents, including Campbell and two of her children. In late July, among the almost 400 teams participating in the Chicago walk, only one other team had raised more money than the Springfield team, according to the Komen foundation.
Walking for a cure
Fundraising is just half the battle. The walkers have to get into the physical shape needed to guide them through a course longer than two marathons.
They're planning to log more than 550 miles while training for the event, in addition to completing cross training and strength exercises.
Campbell joined after attending an informational meeting for the walk and loved the support she received from other women with the same mission: to erase breast cancer worries forever.
"When we first found out (about the cancer), it was total shock and you just don't know.
You're just totally numb. You don't know what to think, what to expect and then you have the worst thoughts going through your mind of, 'Am I going to be here for my kids?'" she said.
"Now I feel really good. I'm glad that I can be a part of all this. I actually have the energy to do all this. It's pretty great to be where I'm at right now and that I'm so glad to say that 'I'm cancer free.' Anybody would be glad to say that after going through it." Without a moment of hesitation, Campbell's 16-year-old daughter decided to participate.
Alex Campbell will be a junior at Springfield High School this fall. She runs on the cross country and track teams but said 60 miles is still intimidating.
Yet, Alex said her mom's courage inspired her.
"When she was going through it, I was scared, but I'm very proud of her that she's gotten through this, and I'm proud to walk next to her and proud to walk next to several other survivors," she said.
When 19-year-old Colin Campbell returned from his freshman year at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, he joined his mom and sister. He's the only man on the Springfield team.
"It was a good way to support my mom," Colin said.
"She's gone through it all and then is jumping right in to fight it." That family support helped Sabrena Campbell survive the difficult days between her diagnosis and the end of her treatment. She's counting on that comfort and enthusiasm to be a catalyst as she embarks on the 60-mile walk.
A family affair
The Campbells have worked together to raise the necessary $6,900 needed for the three of them to participate. They spent hours gathered in the kitchen while Sabrena Campbell made sugar cookies.
Her children and extended family decorated the treats.
They sold more than 500 cookies.
They've also attended team fundraisers at restaurants, outside of grocery stores and at a Springfield Sliders baseball game, where the players raffled jerseys made specifically for the walking team.
Campbell is the team's only cancer survivor. But through the fundraising process, she's met other women who've battled - and beaten - the disease.
"It made me feel so good to meet people who are five years, 10 years (cancer-free). I met somebody 26 years (cancer-free). They're a survivor, so for me that's hope in knowing that I have that long," she said.
The family hopes to hit its personal fundraising mark of a collective $6,900 by Aug. 1 so they can focus on training for the long walk. All three Camp bells agree they're most looking forward to crossing the finish line Aug. 12.
When they do, 12-year-old Noah Campbell will be there with his dad and Sabrena's husband Rob. The family's youngest member wanted desperately to walk, but participants must be 16 by the end of the year to sign up.
Doing it again
Lisa Steelman, 40, is the only member of Power in Pink who's crossed the finish line before.
She walked last year to mark the 15-year anniversary of her mom, Cheryl Midyett, being breast cancer-free.
Experimental treatments saved her mother's life after the vicious disease spread into her lymph nodes, Steelman said. Because of that treatment, her mother can cheer for her at stations throughout the course and at Chicago's Soldier Field for the closing events.
"I believe in the power of research and development and the way that it can affect one's life," said Steelman, one of Power in Pink's co-captains. "I saw how it affected my mother in such a positive way, and I have a daughter. This is my contribution to be sure that there's a cure before my daughter's of an age that she has to worry about this." Steelman also walked to celebrate her good health as she celebrated her birthday just before the event. The experience hooked her. She loved the support residents from Chicago area communities offered as the walkers passed through.
"Everyone would show up with pictures of people who had lost their battle and they would literally have tears streaming down their face and they'd thank you for walking," Steelman said.
Last year, Steelman's feet became so blistered that she lost toenails, but she didn't stop walking. "Because blisters don't need chemo" is this year's team slogan.
Walking for weight loss
During last year's walk, Steelman posted pictures and Face book updates, which attracted the attention of her friend, Christina Robinson Race.
After seeing the pictures from last year's event, Robinson Race, 37, decided she wanted to participate.
She took notice when Campbell and another friend received breast cancer diagnoses around the same time.
"It just hit home. I don't ever want to have to tell my children that Mommy's not going to be here a year from now and I don't want other women to have to do that," she said. "As I realized how likely breast cancer is to strike not only my friends, but also my daughter, my mom, my sister, it became a cause that I felt needed a lot more attention and support." Robinson Race, a co-captain of Power in Pink, is proud to be walking next to a survivor.
"(Sabrena) was so inspirational to me that she was carrying on with life through breast cancer and you know some of us have colds and, you know, we stop what we're doing and she kept going," she said. "If Sabrena could do it going through everything that she's gone through, then any of us could do this." A pending surgery didn't even scare Robinson Race away from the 60 miles. She's had her right ankle repaired twice and she'll have a third reconstruction surgery this fall, she said. It's easy to recover from an ankle surgery, but breast cancer survivors have to fear the disease for the rest of their lives, she added.
She'll be thinking about her 10-year-old daughter, Anna, when she hits the pavement in August.
"What I'm doing today, that money, could someday give her earlier testing. It could give her a better chance of treatment, a new treatment.
That means a lot to me to know that I could do something for her," Robinson Race said.
Robinson Race's husband, Jason Race, can't participate in the walk because he'll be taking care of the couple's three children. But he is training with her.
They've revamped their lifestyle. They walk whenever and wherever possible, ride bikes and plan healthy meals around what will help them maximize their energy for exercise. Robinson Race has lost 60 pounds. Jason has lost almost 50 pounds.
"Now this is just normal to us and we'll use this for the rest of our lives," she said. "I have muscles where I didn't know you could have muscles before." Contact Alissa Groeniger at 788-1542.