Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Walking... 60 miles

It's such a small thing, walking. I mean we do it everyday. Most of us don't even have to think about it, it's automatic. But I have to hand it to the folks who put on the Breast Cancer 3-Day here in Seattle, turning something so mundane into something so significant, so monumental... That was a work of art.

It is walking 60 miles mind you, which is pretty significant - 20 miles a day, for three days in a row.

I did this walk last year, and just like childbirth, I forgot the painful parts until I was there again this year. It's why I have three kids, and why I'll walk again next year too.

You have to be pretty determined, to ask people for money, to train, to be willing to ask for or just allow yourself to be helped along the way... of course then there is the determination to just keep walking. Although I promised I would train better (ok, train period) this year, I did not set up a plan to make sure that happened, and Friday I was in pain near the end of the route - turns out my IT band was snapping past a bone in my knee and walking downhill was unbearable.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Self, given what she has shared, why would she do it again next year?!"

Because when I walk across an intersection, I don't get a round of applause or a volley of horns. I don't have toddlers standing in the middle of the side-walk high fiving me and saying "good job". I don't normally have men giving me flowers just for walking. I don't have people handing me popsicles because I'm walking and it's hot outside. None of these things happen to me on an ordinary day, but they happened everyday for three days because I was walking. Walking on this event had me be part of something really extraordinary, something much bigger than me, and something that makes such a difference. It makes a difference not just to those who get the funds we raised, but it makes a profound difference for those of us who walk.

Walking and fund-raising makes abundantly clear how many people are touched by breast cancer. Not just those who lose someone to it, but those whose family member had to sit through the diagnosis and then who had to survive the treatment. And the treatment at this stage of our medical know-how consists of poisoning the patient with the intent of killing the cancer before the patient dies. The moment you are touched by anyone who has gone through this experience, walking 60 miles over three days - even with a sore knee - is trivial.

I was honored to have Doris Copenhaver on my team; a bunch o' boobs (that was our team name not just a description of us as a group). Doris' two daughters, Kirsten and Dana, her partner, Leslie, and I all walked in honor of her. There were 350 survivors on the walk with us, not only did they fight breast cancer, but they walked the 3-day as well. My hat's off to you, Doris.

The experience was amazing, fulfilling, completely confronting, and such an opportunity... an opportunity to see yourself at your best and your worst. My juvenile sense of humor could be said to be both. Somewhere past the 10 mile mark, I started to get delirious. Seriously, fart jokes can be funny again. One of my team-mates said at one point "she farted so loud, I had to check my own pants"! (yea, I guess you had to be there). And I probably don't need to tell you that there was a plethora of boob jokes, 'cause there were hundreds of boob jokes. The van with "SAVE THE TATA's" on the side, the man who filled our water and thanked us because he was "a big fan of breasts", they were so amazing to have out supporting us.

But when I say see ourselves at our worst, having to battle with my mind while walking that much, hoo! My mind is a big proponent of "I can't", and every time my mind said that, I couldn't. Funny how that works eh? I had to be transported a couple of times to have someone look at my knee, which of course separated me from my team, and I don't do well when I'm all by myself. Don't get me wrong, I THINK I can do all right by myself, so I left everyone behind and walked a two whole miles by myself. It was the slowest most painful part of the walk for me. And those of you who know me, know I'm pretty upbeat, but everyone who passed me on that short leg of the walk asked me if I was ok.

My team did catch up with me, Thank you Kirsten for being so great with me, and graciously showed me that nothing big I ever take on can be done all by my lonesome. Thanks bunch o' boobs, thanks Morgan, Scott, Alexis, Sydney and Cam for being there on the route to cheer me on, and thanks especially to all of you who supported me financially. It was extraordinary.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has often walked alone just to admire the place we live in and to think about nothing except being peacefully aware of how lucky we all are to have friends who do help us, I would like to say thank you on behalf of those who do see a cure because you do walk for those who can't.

kirsten said...

from one boob to another...thank you for walking, talking and sharing in such an extraordinary event. and your participation is what made it extraordinary for me. i'm clear that without you by my side for 60 miles, i don't quite feel myself. i love you...every step of the way.
xoxo kiki

leslie said...

What an inspiration you were to me in the last few miles. It was my pleasure to walk with you, get to know you better, and reflect upon life with humor. Thanks for being there--thanks for being you--and thanks to your family who are as special as you.

Love ya,

Dana Copenhaver said...

As a first timer walking the 3 Day, it rocked my world and touched my soul. Thank you for walking by my side and keeping me in stitches! I realize that I am not Kirsten but damn close sister! I am gearing up for next year and expect to see your smiling face there! I hope you are on the mend.

Monica said...

Ter - FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC! I'm so friggin proud of you and everyone who did this amazing thing.

Your narrative of the 3-day makes me smile and wish I were there with you. I feel your IT-band pain, babe. And I think fart jokes are ok, walking 10k or not (is that wrong?).

Good for you Ter. Now be a good girl, and go and ice yourself.

Love and laughs,

Morgan said...

Glllbert Gilbert,

I believe it is quite extraordinary that in our most vulnerable states we can be such bright and inspirational lights to the world. You and the rest of the O'Boobs were just that for me. Seeing you all on the walk, tired, sweaty and beat-up, warmed my heart to your humanity and your commitment to something bigger than yourselves. You continue to be an inspiration to me and I am SO proud to call you a friend. Thank you for walking and thank you for allowing me to contribute in my little way. As they say in Mexico: Te mando mucho carino de mi Corazon.