Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The walk, Day by Day....

We came to DC with over $31,000 raised for Breast Cancer research and Community Outreach raised for Susan G Komen. Each of us walked over 500 miles in training. I came with my husband and my good friend and her daughter came from California just to support us.

Our team had only one local person, our daughter Allison. The others, Judi Palmer from Atlanta, Patti Bott from Sausalito, Barbara Bryant (retired and on the road) and her daughter Alicia from Long Beach California.

But we each came with much more than money raised and calluses formed. We came with a sense of purpose and hope. We came believing what we do, really does matter. And I came knowing what I was to experience would be one of those life affirming moments you dare never dream about. I was to be a participant in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, representing thousands of woman like me. This honor was not lost on me.

Glenn and I arrived on Tuesday night and spent some time with Allison and Chris. Then the next day we spent checking out the route of the walk. Finally ending up at the camp site in Potomac in an area called Avenal Park. The camp was to be located in a gorgeous neighborhood of expensive estates on a large expanses of green grass. Not withstanding the weather report, which called for showers and thunderstorms, it looked to be a perfect spot.

Patti arrived late that night and the next day we got our things ready. And headed to National Stadium in DC via metro, where there was going to be a rehearsal of the opening ceremony.

Sheri Phillips, is a Doctor, a mother, a past walker and the National spokesperson for Susan G Komen for the Cure. This is her first year in this position. She wears a black glove, not for fashion reasons, but because she suffers and many survivors do, from lymphodema. The glove she has decorated with rhinestones in the shape of a breast cancer ribbon. The condition makes flying painful, and many like Sheri would have a swollen arm 24/7 without it. It is I suspect a constant reminder that they faced Cancer.

I also met the other 7 survivors who were going to participate in the ceremonies. These women GOT how really incredible the moment was. They each, I am sure, at one time or the other, in a secret spot in the hearts, felt a moment like this would never happen (even participating in the walk). There was a woman who remembered that it would be 3 years exactly (on the first day of the walk) that she had made a long drive to tell her son, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Then there was the pink haired spark plug who last year, was in the midst of treatment for her Cancer. She was spared Chemotherapy because of a diagnostic test developed through funding from Susan G Komen that let her know the chances of her Cancer returning would allow her living with a double mastectomy, hormonal drugs and radiation. She signed up to this walk within months after she was diagnosed. And the other woman who sported some pink in her hair who has had the Cancer return twice so far. My survival of 16 years, meant something to them. It made me feel like the length of my survival served a purpose.

The flag I was given to carry was the Belief flag. I felt it was my role to convey that concept. It was a role I was very honored to represent.

We were able to hear the words we would hear at the opening, which was a good thing. It would certainly be moving enough with just the words, but with thousands of people looking up at us, they might easily become overwhelming.

On that stage you can't have any doubt you are surrounded by powerful woman.

Our next stop was to Dupont Circle to carbo load before the walk. Allison had picked out a great little spot off a side street. We met up with Patti and the Bryants (who had gone to an art exhibit). We had a multiple purpose, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebration and walk preparation.

Common wisdom may have called for a slightly different menu (sans wine) but we allowed ourselves enough for a toast.

After dinner the next "chore" was to take metro back to Northern Virginia to try and sleep before our 4:30 wake up call.

We dreamt of the walk ahead ..... What would it bring?