What? You thought I’d never get to it? It’s October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and what better time to conclude my 3 Day adventures?
The third day of the walk was yet another early morning and it was cold. Most of my pain had eased off and I was ready to rock the walk. We hauled our sorry asses out of our tents and Bella scuttled off to the medic tent to get her shin splints taped. Jacquee and I ripped down our tents and made sure all of our gear was packed up and delivered to the trucks that were there to take our stuff to meet us at closing ceremonies. We made our way to the breakfast tent and shivered our way through a yummy breakfast.
Then we lined up for the buses. I know, buses. School buses, even. When was the last time I rode one of those? Before high school, that’s for sure. The bus drove us about 15 minutes to the start of the third day and we were off. We impressed ourselves. We were moving at mighty fast clip and we were hitting pit stops in record time. For us, anyway.
The best part of day three was the walk along Alki Beach. It was wonderful. The sea wind was blowing in your face, there were people lined the sidewalk cheering you on and handing you candy and best of all- you could see our final destination- The Space Needle.
Seeing where we were headed was some serious motivation and we kept on trucking. Just before lunch, Bella was feeling the pain in her legs and she hitched a ride to meet us at lunch. Jacquee and I trekked our way there. Lunch was a bit brutal. We had been doing so good earlier and the pain was catching up. We had six miles left. The scary part for me was that my already swollen knee was now actually changing colors and turning red. I made my way to the medic tent where they drew all over my knee and told me to see them again if the redness colored outside the lines. They also gave me ice.
From lunch we walked a very, very short distance. We decided that of the six miles remaining, we would rather do the last three than the first three so we got a van to the last pit stop. Heading out from the last pit stop, we couldn’t be more excited. We were outside of Safeco Field which meant we were in downtown Seattle and there was so much to look at.
There was a horse-drawn carriage full of people who hollered and cheered at us. There was a tour bus full of tourists gaping at all the crazy people in pink hiking up Seattle’s hills. There was window shopping to be done and of course, the ever-present supporters. One guy even had stacks and stacks of boxes of Krispy Kremes and he was handing them out to walkers. That’s a lot of donuts, my friends.
There were so many memorable moments of the third day. I know I’m going to forget some and kick myself later, but one of the neatest ones happened in the last mile.
A bald woman was walking with her family through downtown for the day. She was looking around, a little bewildered, and then realized what we were doing. She stopped and looked and said, “Oh. You’re walking for me.” Our jaws dropped and I think one of the girls behind us gave her a hug before they continued on their way. Heh. I’m getting teary just remembering it.
At one intersection there was a crew member whistling and getting people through. When the light turned red she stopped and yelled, “Do you know how much further it is?” We all looked at each other and she continued. “TWO BLOCKS!” You should have heard us all yell!
From there it was hard NOT to walk with a light step. We could taste the finish line. As we neared Memorial Stadium, I couldn’t believe how many people were there. It was as close to a red carpet experience as I think I’ll ever get. There was literally a tunnel of people and they were crying and they were holding signs and they were cheering. I was openly crying, tears streaming down my face. I was there. I was doing it. I was walking on my own two feet across the last few yards, something that I didn’t do last year.
In closing ceremonies and while you’re in the holding area, you are bombarded by reminders of why you are there. When you’re given your shirt for completing, there are two colors. The pink shirts are given to survivors and the white ones are for the other walkers. You’d be walking along and see the woman who served you breakfast… and she’s wearing a pink shirt. The woman that you talked to back at camp behind the bleachers is wiping tears from her eyes, beautifully adorned in pink.
At one point the cheers got so loud that it was deafening. We turned around to see what it was all about and we ended up choking back sobs. On her way in, a woman had put her child in a sling around her front and she proudly held up the sign that she’d carried throughout the walk. It read, “One Tough Mama. I survived surgery and six rounds of chemo with this baby in my tummy.” The baby was beautiful and so was her mother.
I can’t even begin to express how blessed I am to be able to participate in this event. All of the pain, all of the stress, all of the emotional upheaval is so worth it. If you’re with me in person, I will sit and I will talk about it until your eyes start to glaze over because there is so much to say and so much to recall. There is so much that I want every single person I know to experience with me.
Next year is going to be a little bit different. I’m more than slighty sad that I won’t be able to walk, but the fundraising from this year and last year have beat me down. I’m still short for this year and while I don’t mind donating the remainder myself to the cause, it is definitely having a financial impact on me. I feel horribly hitting up the same people year after year so I’m taking a year off. From walking, that is. I still fully intend on being a part of this next year, but perhaps as a crew member, or even just camping my ass out down in Seattle and being one of those ever-present supporters.
It’s been almost a month since I walked and the experience is still so fresh in my mind. I savor those memories and I will for all of my life. I miss my mother. I miss her so very much every single day. I hope she’s proud of me. I hope she knows that I do this in her memory. I do this so that any future daughters I may have can keep me around. So they don’t have to even learn what chemotherapy is. Let them be ignorant of that one. I’m okay with shelter from that kind of pain.
I hope that people remember that breast cancer is a killer and not just during the month of October. We need a cure. If you can spare anything at all, please consider making a .