Nine years ago, my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she told me, my world stopped and I felt the loss that hadn’t even come yet (and luckily, was not to come). She was fortunate that she was diagnosed early and was able to have surgery, chemo, and radiation… She was given a clean bill of health shortly thereafter. Mom has been cancer-free for nine years, but I still remember feeling the gripping fear that this disease would rob me of my Mom… or anyone else that I loved.
I’ve always participated in Race for the Cure and raised funds for the Susan G. Komen foundation, but this year… I was honored that my sister-in-law, Jennifer, asked me to walk 39.3 miles with her in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, NC this past October. We were invited to join a friend’s walking team, “Team Tiny TaTas”, so we had some experience to help us prepare for what to expect. It was an amazing experience and I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to blogging about it, but better late than never!
Anyway, so we started out the weekend at a ridiculously early hour, catching the shuttle to the start line at about 4am! As cold and tired as I was standing out there in that crowd, it was also really exciting to look around and see all the pink gear, groups of girlfriends (old and new), and the hope glowing on everyone’s faces! The opening ceremony was incredibly moving with amazing personal stories from those affected by this horrible disease, but the thing I remember most about that morning was that we collectively raised 2.3 million dollars in Charlotte alone!
We had gorgeous weather for the walk throughout neighborhoods all over the city. The themed rest stops (pajama party, 70s disco, etc) and all the great costumed volunteers along the route were such an encouragement… I’ve done so many events over the years and I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced such great support as this walk had! Not only were there tons of volunteers working the rest stops, water stops, and road crossing, but people just driving by would honk and wave and stop to give us a chance to cross the street without waiting, etc. It was awesome!
Neither one of us felt up to walking the full 26 miles the first day, so we stopped at 13.1 miles… a half-marathon and also conveniently located directly next to a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop. Ha! It was nice to kick off our shoes and socks, spread out on the grass, and enjoy some Cherry Garcia as we watched other walkers continue on with their route.
We both felt a little stiff that first night and the next morning, but once we got going again on the second day, we were fine. We talked to so many great women that day… women who had been through the battle, women who had nursed a loved one through treatment, and women who were just there to hope that they’d never have to do either of those. Seeing all that definitely helped us forget our aches and pains from the previous day. Unfortunately, I ended up with a stress-fracture in my left foot by about mile 11, so we got our cheerleader husbands to give us a ride to the finish.
Like I said, it was an amaaaaazing experience… one that I’m so thankful to have shared with my sister-in-law and one I can’t wait to have again! Oh, I just noticed that a lot of our team is signed up for the Chicago walk in June… that one might be doable, hmmm. I do love Chicago!