Friday, October 9, 2009

Every precious moment

I want to find the perfect period.

A pedometer marks how far you have gone, how many calories you have burned and how long it has taken to get there. But there is no such devise to mark how this challenge has made us feel or how it has helped us grow as human beings. One way to discover what it all MEANS, I thought, was to ask my team mates for the one lesson they are taking away from this grand adventure.

I quickly found out, when Jill responded to my query, the question was not easily answered. She said she'd tell me hers if I told her mine. I proceeded to weed through the dozens of "ah-ha moments" I have had along the way, settling on a couple of themes, but just one lesson is one of those hard requests. As Team: Are We There Yet? called in or emailed their lessons, it was obvious we all have walked away from this journey imminently richer, immeasurably wiser and more connected to each other than we ever dreamed in March when we first began.

On the day I decided to sign up for the 2009 Breast Cancer 3-day, I had no idea what this challenge would bring me. It seemed to me like I was planning to walk on the moon. I didn't know if I had it in me to make it all the way to the end. But, the commitment I made was real. I knew what I had to do was get up put one foot in front of the other and be patient. If I didn't give up and kept on walking I would get there. One of the most important things I learned on this journey is that there are no people more precious in the world, than those who will stand by your side on a great quest. These are people who are there for you and by you when life is most challenging. They stand by you and hold you up even when it is inconvenient and not easy. By walking with Jill, Patti, Barbara and Allison a deeper and more profound friendship has developed. We will always have this experience in common. We will always understand one more facet of each other. What I saw was an awesome display of tenacity, determination, empathy and love.
Jill's email arrived with her lesson learned.
I think you will find throughout a common theme in each of the responses.

I learned a lesson about the strength of women united for a cause: Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.

This made me remember Jill, vainly trying to catch us on day 2, when she thought we were ahead of her, but we were actually way behind her. She walked the entire day on her own. It was the longest of the days. Many people would have given up and grabbed the sweep van to wait in camp, but as Jill said, she had a "fire in her belly" that made her complete the entire 22.5 miles. When we saw her finally it was with a glass of wine in her hand and a huge smile on her face.

Barbara called me and said she simply couldn't put her feelings into an email. So it may be hard for me to translate her thoughts into this post, but I will try.
Her feelings came from watching some of the dedicated
women who walked last weekend. She said her lesson was about how human beings can overcome great obstacles when they are motivated to achieve a goal. Barbara said she saw this often when she and Curtiss were on their round the world sailing adventure, and she saw the same spirit on the 3 day. She pointed to the example of one young mother who, along with her mother, were the last to arrive on the 2nd day. Barbara asked the woman's mother about their walk, and the mother explained. "We were last because my daughter needed to stop to breastfeed her baby." Then on the 3rd day as we were walking to the closing ceremonies, Barbara saw this young woman sitting on the curb, feeding her baby again. Another woman likewise impressed Barbara. She also was a mother. The woman's husband and children met her somewhere along the walk on the last day. The children were crying hysterically, holding on to her legs and begging the Mom not to go. In a calming voice, she reached down and hugged her children and explained, "I have to finish this walk." Barbara spoke with her later and mentioned how hard that must have been. The Mom said, it was hard, and her knees were ready to give up on her, but she had committed to finishing this walk and she was going to finish it. Then finally Barbara pointed out how inspiring it was to see Allison, in obvious pain, but with a huge grin on her face throughout the walk. It showed her, she said, how far determination can take us as human beings if the goal is important enough.

Patti's walk was personal. Check back to see what her lessons were (she's still working on them). Having walked with Patti, she approached this walk like she did the Hawaiian Marathon she ran a few years back. She was the one with all the knowledge about Sharkies and stretching. She took on this challenge and (according to her trainer) overdid some of her training. She was the one who would go farther than the suggested miles in order to prove we could do it. She and I stood in the survivor circle together, and I know, that is something she never experienced before.....

The walk taught me how much my daughter Allison is like me. She is determined, tenacious (sometimes to a fault some would say.) To see Allison limping on the last two days, and seeing the steely determination on her face to finish the walk was like looking in a mirror. She right now is in an interview, and she has a full blown fever. Once she surfaces from the flu and the interview I will post what she learned from the walk. She has told me there were so many things she learned she had to think about about it....

The walk taught us all a lot of lessons about how determination can take us the distance in great challenges. I believe, I have always known this. But as a cancer survivor, I took away something I hadn't expected. Walking into the holding area was an overwhelming experience. The waves of emotion poured over me like a tsunami. Almost as if the past fourteen years had been bottled up behind a stone dam. The significance of what we all had done was so powerful, it blew the past out of the way and allowed me to walk ahead into the rest of my life. Cancer had stolen from me the ability to control my own destiny fourteen years ago. Over the past six months of training and during the 3 day walk, I was given back the ability to chart my own course.

What lesson did I learn on the 3 day? What have I taken away from this experience? I have taken away my own power. My own power. My own power. And with that I can do anything.

P.S. If you have enjoyed this blog, I would ask that you please make a small donation to my 2010 walk.

Your donation will mean the world, because it is one more step toward a world without breast cancer.

If you would like to walk with me and our team in 2010, just let me know, I will send you the information on how to sign up. Serious training will not begin until April 2010, but.... make the commitment now. Amazing things happen when people work together for a greater good.

And now... this blog is on hiatus until and when the spirit moves me!