Sunday, October 27, 2013

DAY 2 Atlanta - Gone with the Drizzle

I could have entitled this post "Gone with the Wind" but truly the rain that fell, fell without much wind, and it was mild in comparison with the deluge the DC walkers faced. In preparation for precipitation I had brought duct tape and about 30 shower caps and 12 pink ponchos. I had dutifully researched on Google how to keep our shoes dry. I was ready. When we went to sleep after day 1 we were assured an even lesser chance of rain that the day we had just finished... and it never rained. So when I got dressed and headed off with Patti and Kathy, I didn't put any shower caps or ponchos for that matter in my pack.

When we emerged from the Hotel to grab our taxi, I saw cloudy skies and even a little drizzle on the windshield. SURELY this wouldn't last! Thank goodness Kathy had two ponchos in her backpack...becuase I needed one.

At Camp people began to line up to get ready to take off. There is something really excited (even though you are dead tired) about seeing a group of pink clad warriors ready to hit the streets. Each and every one of them have reasons to be there. Walking 60 miles in 3 days is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of passion and this you can see fairly easily on the faces of the walkers. A team surrounding a member who obviously is either in the midst of chemo or just finishing it, a Mother and her daughter with unspoken determination to beat this disease. Husbands with shirts honoring wives they have lost. You cannot in all good conscious complain, whimper or whine in the face of such courage.

But walking in not melancholy it is triumphant. The crew who cheer you on, give you an extra bonce in your step. Somehow when the blisters form and walking begins to take it toll, you walk on. How can you not. There is no shame however with sweeping to walk another day and we all encourage each other to take care of ourselves so we can continue the fight.

Since I started walking in 2009, I have met a lot of people both at the 3 day and online. They are like family to me. Here in Atlanta I had a chance to meet face to face some of the people I had only known from a distance. What a gift to see... they are as they seem, very much a part of the passion I live when I walk the 3 day. Here are some pictures of day 2. (They call them Komen miles and theoretically we were to finish 40 total by the end of the day..... I personally believe we walked a few beyond that on our way to End Breast Cancer).




This man is a sweet kind sole who has been a huge supporter of countless walkers. I remember when he donated $10 to my walk out of no where. It made me smile... it made me walk even stronger.

Patti reached the breaking point on this day with blisters that were multiplying by the minute. She opted to save some tenacity for Day 3. FIRST time this girl has taken a sweep van and she made the right move.

Kathy and I walked the rest of the day together.

 But you are NEVER alone!

 Walking every damp mile of the 20 miles until we reached camp.

But poor Kathy had noticed a hurting big toe. She was horrified to see an enormous blister under the toe nail. Medical suggested she wait for the doctor to come to lance it. They felt surely she would lose the nail at some point. She opted to return to the hotel.
So back we went to go to bed to be ready to return the next day for DAY 3 ... the final day. Our team was wounded but not out of it....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 1 Atlanta, Are We There Yet rises again

It's been a week since I was walking in a heavy drizzle, or a light rain depending on your level of optimism. My whole life I have heard the words of my Mother speak longingly for the warmth and culture of the South, yet the furthest I had ever travel was Virginia (choosing to call Texas a different kind of critter). So the commitment to come to Atlanta brought with it for me a kind of homage to my Mom. The idea began when Judi who has walked with us in DC decided to walk in SF. I promised her then I would come to walk Atlanta. Originally we were to merge two teams into one Are We There Yet - Pink Panthers. However, the pink Panthers opted not to participate this year so the team came down to 4 Tri Deltas, Patti Bott, Carol Smith, Kathy Heckathorne and me and Judi.

Shortly before we took off, we got a email from Carol saying unfortunately she would not be able to fly to Atlanta from Minnesota. She had had eye surgery and the eyes were infected. It would be a huge risk to fly. Then after Judi picked us up at the airport, I could tell something was wrong. She wasn't quite herself. She was a bit more subdued. I thought, well maybe it is because her husband is there, maybe is just is quieter around him. What I came to find out was she too would not be walking with us the next morning at Stone Mountain. She had gotten ready to walk the day before with a friend who arrived to find her in a cold sweat. She was taken to the ER where she was determined to have dangerously high blood pressure. She simply could not walk without a great deal of danger. So our numbers now were 3. As we got dressed and ready to walk over to the opening ceremonies, I was a touch melancholy. Missing our friends, worried about their health, and yet determined to walk this walk proud and strong.

It was a happy sight for me to see numbers like a couple of years ago in SF. Over 1000 walkers and over 300 crew gathered in the shadow of a huge granite mountain carved with Confederate generals. I immediately ran into a Facebook friend I had gotten to know who was wearing a skirt of ribbon and the names of two people I know who we recently lost to Cancer. Somehow, once you are a part of this 3 day family you are never alone. I saw Dr. Sheri and gave her a huge hug congratulating her on her recent marriage. Patti and I stood as we had before listening to words we have heard before that crystalize why we walk. "We walk, because they cannot." Too many have been lost. We are living testaments to the advancements in treatment these walks have helped fund.

And to the sounds of "Firework" we walked off to show " 'em what we're worth...".

The route was filled will support (even on a Friday!). We walked from Stone Mountain down through some pretty nice neighborhoods, into Atlanta until we reached the Georgia World Conference Center. The 3 day was filming their 2014 commercials during this walk. We noticed the film company had selected some pretty young perky girls to film as we walked into the Convention Center.

Judi came to join us for the camp show.
And to welcome back the last walker of the day with the raising of the flag, One day closer to a world without Breast Cancer.

We left to go back to the hotel and our koosy beds and slippers. Showers that weren't in a truck and rooms that didn't reverberate the snoring of 1000 tired walkers.

Off we drifted to sleep waiting for Day 2 and a forecast of 20% chance of showers.