Saturday, May 5, 2012

If I knew I was speaking......

Yesterday was the day I was scheduled to do my J-Lo thing in San Jose at the Adobe Headquarters for their Karaoke for the Cure. But it was also the day I was set to have lunch with Jim Hillman (the Jim Hillman of 14 event, 3 dayer fame). Glenn and I debated about how much time it would take to get to Palo Alto on a Friday and he suggested it would take 2 hours with about 5 minutes for a cushion. Well, it took an hour and 10 minutes. I got there so early I could sneak in a walk. So I walked a loop around the Eichler filled neighborhood. 
We met at the Green Elephant. I would know this bright eyed - lean - purposeful man anywhere. We have exchanged emails and facebook messages in the past, but had yet to meet face to face.  Jim has become an invaluable asset to the 3 day world. The passion which drove him to walk in all 14 3 days last year defines the reasons why we walk. To put an end to Cancer. I have written in this blog before the story of finding a little girl on Belmont hill in Boston holding a sign that said, "My Mom died from Breast Cancer, keep walking for a cure." Jim started walking in memory of his Mother who had died from Breast Cancer, and he continues to walk for many many more. That is one thing the 3 day does for you, it deepens the resolve you have to end Cancer but reminding you how many people it has taken.
Our lunch was great. We were able to share stories, talk about our attitude about sweep vans and blisters, about the 3 day staff and camping. He said he was surprised about all the attention he had gotten for his achievement. I told him I understood that completely but that I was proud that he had become a leader in the effort. I totally understood the drive he felt on Belmont Hill when he saw Zoie that took him through all 14 walks. I also understand how healing the collective power of so many walkers can be to someone who has suffered loss or to survivors who are taking back their lives.

I totally forgot I was planning on taking at least one picture of we two together. That may have to wait for the SF walk in September, unless I can convince Jim to come for Pinktini and Popcorn! He would be a welcome 3 day celebrity !

I drove down to San Jose with more time to kill once I arrived. At Adobe I went in to get my name tag where Brett our host met me, and showed me where I could drop my box of PINK. An hour to kill equals at least 3 miles... so I asked him where I might be able to get in a little walk. He suggested the river walk along the Guadalupe River.

This very LA style river has banks that have been tiered with concrete for the many floods that have been known to happen along its banks. Also a long the banks were some seemingly homeless folks, a few bike riders, ducks and birds.
It was great walking weather so I took off at a quick clip to get it in before Karaoke for the Cure. Along the way I practiced my "Hey dog!" and "They're in it to win it!" comments.
Mommy duck and baby ducks weren't very impressed with me...

The old "Italian village" along the way.

I had gotten a little warm on the walk so I took off the hat to "air" out!
I had on my 3 day pink, with mardi gras beads and survivor shirt. When I got to the event location, I was pointed to a table where Melissa (of the 3 day) and I would be. I pulled out some of the pink I had brought, boas, leis, pompoms, bracelets and waited for Melissa to arrive. Adobe set up a computer we could use for credit card donations. The purpose of the event was to help their employees who are walking in these events raise their minimums. What a fun and supportive thing to do! Besides us there were two walks which benefitted Leukemia lymphoma and a table for the Crohns and Colitis walk.

We set up and decorated a 3 day tent....

So I was able to show how we do it 3 day style!

People started to come in grab a drink and some food. The DJ set up his equipment for the Karaoke.

People would pay money to sing and their $$ would be donations equally divided among the participants.

Somewhere along the way Brett came up to me and Melissa and said, after the next person I would go up on stage to talk to the group of about 130 people about the 3 day and me. WHAT?! I thought I was judging. I couldn't really do my J-Lo and talk about losing a breast could I? Or "Hey dog! guess what? I'm in it because I lost it?"

Melissa turned to me and said "I thought you knew?" I told her I didn't mind, I was pretty good on my feet but I hadn't planned anything.

So when I got up I told the group about what it was like to find out about my Cancer 17 years ago. How it had taken 14 years to accept the fact I had survived. I went into some detail about each... and explained what it means to walk with my daughters and know what we are doing, this powerful thing we do, can help to change the world to be one where there is no more Cancer. I think it went over pretty well because one lady in particular came to the table and wrote a sizable check and said my story had touched her. I did have the attention of most of the room.

But you know how it is, in hindsight I would have said more, or said it differently. I would have said, my mother had died from Lung Cancer, my grandfather from Colon Cancer. I had lost a couple of  friends to Breast Cancer and I had just attended the memorial of a colleague who had passed from Esophageal Cancer. I would have said, research from any of these organizations will benefit other Cancers. I would have told folks about the people in the circle with me in DC. I would have said, walk if you haven't before... it will be the most incredible thing you never thought you could do.

But I didn't. I just did what I did and I was glad to be able to do that. THANKS Melissa for the privilege!