Wednesday, December 02, 2009

day three: too inspired to be tired

The final day of our 3-Day, 60 mile walk was absolutely amazing.

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Sure, we were all tired. And our feet hurt.

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And more than a few of us had on the equivalent of moleskin socks.

But there was no hardly any complaining.

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That last day, the energy and enthusiasm and gratitude of the people lining the route, actually carried me to the finish.

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There were wonderful pit stops, stocked with all kinds of fresh fruit and snacks, including boxes of Uncrustables. (Never had one before. Never thought I'd enjoy them as much as I did. Never thought I'd rush out to Costco and buy a huge box because they are the best.creation.ever!)

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There were hilarious and grateful pit stop workers - many of them breast cancer survivors, themselves.

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There were more huge hills...

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And there were more people with funny ...

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And thoughtful t-shirts.

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There were younger men who made us smile...

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And older men who made us proud...

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And there were scores of people who made us think about the loved ones they had lost.

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There were children dressed up...

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And dogs dressed up...

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There were babies colored up...

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And adults colored up...

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And even dogs colored up.

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There were courageous police men wearing pink shirts and pink shoelaces and pink beads that took a break to swing at one of the playgrounds along our route.

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And we walked past a local school chorus, who were singing...

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... these lyrics which were provided by the school's Music Director.

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Our incredible three-day journey ended at Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

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And our awesome husbands and beautiful children were there, waiting for us. (Including my own husband who brought me a dozen long stem pink roses and eight pink balloons - for each of the loved ones we have lost to cancer.)

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We concluded our walk by passing beneath the "Hoofin' It For High Beams" sign...

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And collecting a t-shirt for completing the event. (For anyone who doesn't think that they could complete a 3-Day walk, they could always consider volunteering for the crew - which was critical for our journey and looked to be a lot less painful!)

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Walkers received white shirts and those people who were breast cancer survivors, received pink shirts. What amazed me is to see all of the women I had been walking alongside for the past three days - all of those women who hoofed it twenty miles a day - and many of whom slept in tents - and showered in trucks - and climbed hills and endured blisters and pulled muscles - how many of them were wearing pink.

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I heard that there was a 17-year old survivor on the course. And while I didn't see her, I was approached my a mother and daughter walking duo, that asked if I would mind taking their photograph at the Finish. "Of course not!" I said. But I had to swallow hard when I noticed that the daughter, no more than 25-years old, was the one wearing the pink shirt.

When I looked at my own pink shirted daughter, perched on her daddy's shoulders, I felt like all I could do is walk - and pray - that we find a cure, soon. Because my heart absolutely aches for any parent whose child faces a cancer diagnosis. I cannot and do not want to imagine it.

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As we walked, arm in arm to our closing ceremonies, we passed a young woman who was in the midst of treatment, standing on the sidewalk watching our progression. As tears streamed down her cheeks and she mouthed "thank you", several of the walkers passed over to her, the long stem pink roses that we had received once we crossed the finish line. By the time we reached her, she had at least two dozen in her arms - with more and more coming.

The participants in this event arrived in to the closing ceremony in waves. The white t-shirts arrived first.The wonderful crew, medics and police officers arrived next. And then, the pink t-shirts who represented the breast cancer survivors, arrived last.

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As the breast cancer survivors walked in to the ceremony, all of the walkers took off one of their shoes and held it up, as a show of support to them. For what they have been through and for what so many are still going through. It was - by far - the most inspiring and emotional moment of the entire event as hundreds of pink shirted walkers, went past us and we locked our teary eyes with women who were so grateful - and thankful - and hopeful.

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Recently, I received an e-mail from the 3-Day Organization asking if I could provide my feedback on this event and what, if anything, I learned from my participation.

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I learned that next year, we might want to rethink "Got Triplets?" on the backs of our shirts, because we were approached by more than one person who wanted to know if that meant we had three nipples? Uh ... no.

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I learned that something as ugly as cancer can bring out beauty from everywhere.

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I learned that the world would be a MUCH better place if there were more pink clad law officials and Harley riding bikers helping people stay safe.

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I learned that each of my 'More the Merrier Walkers for Knockers' teammates were faced with their own set of challenges for participating in this event.

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But everyone rose to the occasion. We met our fundraising minimums - and then we raised some more. We walked sixty miles. We left our four husbands alone for three days, with 14 small children including four sets of triplets.

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I am so proud of the strong, beautiful women I had the privilege of walking beside.

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I learned that early detection saves lives.

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I learned from people who were walking, that blisters are a lot less painful than chemotherapy. I learned that everyone should experience an event like this at some point in their lives. And I learned that we can do anything we put our minds to because each one of us has incredible power and each one of us IS the cure.

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Now, who wants to go with me for a 3-Day stroll in 2010?

(Or join our crew?)

OK. OK. Don't go too crazy.

One at a time...

25 comments:

  1. WOW! I am so proud of you for participating. Next year, perhaps I can volunteer to help the cause.
    MOM

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  2. If you had a Dallas team, I'd join in a second. Wonderful post. Beautiful.

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  3. This is such an amazing and inspiring post. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes.

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  4. We just found out my husbands Aunt has stage 3 breast cancer. Its crazy, Ive been reading your blog for so long now, reading about all of this..and now it strikes my family. Its so scary. They found another one in her arm, and in her neck where they can't operate to get it out, so we have to rely on chemo. They gave her a 30% chance to live if the chemo won't get rid of it.
    You don't have to publish this if you don't want...I don't know why I told you all this, but your blog and your stories touch me, and now your blog REALLY touches me.

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  5. OMG Jen that post has me sitting here crying my eyes out!
    The outpouring of love you felt on that walk comes from this survivor as well. We so honor those of you who do these miraculous things for us the help research. So the things like 17 and 25 year old survivors are indeed survivors

    Thank you from the very botton of my heart.
    Cathy

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  6. You've (almost) inspired me to walk again! I'm proud of your whole team, and I'm glad you had such an amazing experience!
    -Laurie Garrett

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  7. Sounds so rewarding! I'd love to! Where are we going?! :)

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  8. Count me in for sure! Thanks for making the preggo girl cry while reading this post! Miss you!

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  9. My friend(s) and I can't do Cleveland 2010 because my sister's wedding is that weekend. So we are hoping to join my friend's sister's team in Detroit two weeks later. Reading about your experience makes me determined to have it happen.

    And I have three hats here for you - want to do a post-walk giveaway? The make nice gifts!

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  10. I would love to. All looked very inspiring. I had tears rolling down my cheeks - not a good look at work (I should have closed the door I guess).

    Well done for doing it - well done to Charlie for making sure the kids were well looked after while you go and do it.

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  11. WOW!


    (truly humbling & that's from me as a reader.) Marg.

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  12. Jen, this has been the most amazing series of posts and pictures, and I've had tears rolling down my face reading each one. I'm so proud of you for making the walk, and hope to follow in your footsteps (maybe staring with a shorter walk or run?) next year. THANK YOU!

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  13. My goal is to be there walking with you. Worst case, I'll be there cheering you on!

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  14. LOVED your synopsis of the event. Thanks for sharing it all with us. I'm a little disturbed by the young boys in bras, though. Maybe they can think of less creepy costumes next year?

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  15. I am in for the crew....

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  16. Me! Me! Me! It sounds AMAZING!!! We have just spent the last two years building a new home that we are getting ready to move into! I have put a lot of energy into the project, but it wasn't necessarily positive energy most of the time. I need more positive energy! I am thankful for our new home, but there are so many important things in this world that need to be done! Thank you for reminding me on your blog!

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  17. I am amazed by your devotion and compassion! It's not often that you see people giving so much for anything outside of their own needs and wants. And as someone who also has triplets, I'm not sure where you find the strength! My Mom is a 25+ year survivor of breast cancer, she was diagnosed at a younger age than I am now so it is something I think about often. Just wanted to let you know that you are appreciated! P.S. I enjoy your blog! Kelli

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  18. What an amazing experience. I wanna do one now. You are a rock star!

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  19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEdVfyt-mLw

    Thought you might enjoy this video. Way to go on the 3-day walk! I've enjoyed your blog about it.

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  20. Jen...you've definitely inspired me to look into a 3-day here on the East Coast. I'm gonna research...pull together a team...and go!

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  21. I'm with Cathy, Jen. I was so touched by what you have done, what so many people put their hearts and souls into this walk..OMG. This survivor, too was totally overcome by the love. I sobbed in my husband's arms after reading your post. It's been 3.5 years, with my last reconstruction last month... still scares the stuffing out of me. Thank you, sweet girl, from the bottom of my heart. Annie W.

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  22. Annie & Cathy: You have no idea how awesome it is for me to hear from YOU. While there are so many people who I love that have been lost to this dreaded disease - I'm fighting for the ones that are HERE and that we need to keep around for a whole lot longer.

    So, does this mean you're going to be part of our team next year? :)

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  23. Jen, being part of your team would be awesome.. and *I* will be there in spirit. I have permanent neuropathy on the bottoms of my feet from the chemo, and arthritis from the tamoxifen. I'm not complaining, just stating the facts- I'll put up with that- I'm STILL here! And Albany NY..a bit far from San Diego. :-)
    Scrolling down, again, looking at this post.. it truly moves me in so many ways. Thank you for walking, thank your tireless support.. thank you for documenting the so many remarkable people involved in the walk.
    Jen, you truly are an angel. xoxo

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  24. Thank you so much for sharing all of these photos! I am even more inspired to do the DC 3-day now.

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  25. Okay, I have stayed away on purpose...Everyone ((Margaret and my mom)) has been telling me how great your 3 day walk posts were but I could not read them.

    I decided today I was going to catch up a little...I have read about your terrible grammar...Geee ~ We are so embarrassed ~ , your kids protecting each other, going to the dentist...~ they are getting so big, your starting a new blog...maybe I missed something here ~ my father would always say "take the criticism, think about it and change the things you think that person may have a point one, forget the rest...Words of Wisdom

    The 3 day walk...I have to go...Let's hope this stupid economy will pick back up by then so I CAN go.

    Here is the thing...I canNOT do it in the memory of my father. I think that would just be to hard for me at this point. I can however walk with his STRONGER then ever SPIRIT by my side.

    For this is the hardest part of cancer...

    Now I am a mess and I won't go on the read the other posts.

    I just want to say for the record...I do NOT think my dad lost his battle...I really think he won...He fought to hard to lose. I saw a tee shirt in this post that said "For those Fighting the good fight...AND for those Cheering From Heaven"...THis is true...I know he is cheering and praying and loving us all more then ever.

    I have to go mop up my face now......Much Love, Lisa

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