Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Breast Cancer isn't Political {2012 3-day for the Cure Recap}

I've avoided all political topics during this election season. Today I'm going to talk about Susan G. Komen and an event I support each year. It's something I'm incredibly passionate about. It's also something some consider political. If you want a fantastic breakdown of the Komen/Planned Parenthood debate, please read this. While I disagree with her views on Planned Parenthood and abortion, I love her perspective. Above all, breast cancer is not political. It doesn't affect democrats, republicans, rich, poor, white, black, or purple. It doesn't even affect women. It touches everyone. And because of that, I will continue to walk.  

Last weekend I participated in my 6th Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure event. You can read about my first event, second year, the year I walked in Atlanta and Dallas, and the year I walked while 31 weeks pregnant. I have walked 360 event miles (and countless training miles!) and raised almost $14,000 over the past 5 years. This year, like all the others, was remarkable, moving, and life-altering. While I cannot possibly articulate the impact the event has made on my life, I want to try.

Here's how things went down!

Day 1
Friday morning Jarrod drove Courtney, Philip, Wesley, and I to Collin Creek Mall for Opening Ceremony. It's one of the most beautiful events of the year. We arrived well before the sun was up. I fed Wesley in the car and we made our way towards the stage. We met up with our friends and teammates, Laurie and Holly.


It was a relatively warm morning. We're used to being very cold at opening ceremony, but this year it was delightful. After snapping some pictures and shedding some tears, we hit the road!


On Friday we walked 19 miles. We walked from opening ceremony at Collin Creek Mall in Plano to our tent city in Farmers Branch. It was a long but beautiful day. We enjoyed our fantastic cheering stations and by lunch were already pretty sore. It was clear we didn't train this year like we have in years past. I figured this year would be easier because I wasn't pregnant, but I trained a lot more when I was pregnant... And if you're worried that we go hungry, have no fear...graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I seriously ate more in 3 days than the previous 2 weeks!
One of my favorite 3-day snacks!
We met up with Jarrod and Wesley at lunch. I nursed Wesley and ate my sandwich in the car. It was nice but reminded me how different it is to walk as a mama. Normally on the 3-day event I can completely turn off my normal life. I don't work, do school work, or focus on cleaning the house. This year, however, I was still a mama...a nursing mama, actually.
After lunch we hit the trail again to walk 8 more miles to camp. It was a beautiful walk for the most part. We enjoyed school children cheering from behind fences of elementary schools, neighbors handing out cookies, and lots of shade. It was a beautiful day.
We arrived back at camp sometime near 4pm. We got foot massages, picked up our mail, and ate dinner. We ate pasta and salads with bread and chocolate cake for dinner. The pasta was marinara or meat sauce and delicious macaroni and cheese. It was incredible! As soon as we finished dinner, Jarrod and Wesley came to get us! We wandered around for a little while before checking out of camp and going to the hotel.
I'm a traitor... I loved the camp aspect of the 3-day until last year when I was far too pregnant to be sleeping in a tent. This year, because of nursing, I chose to stay in the hotel and keep Wesley with me. I still encourage everyone to camp, but staying in a hotel is what is best for me right now.
Back at the hotel we played with Wesley, Jarrod got dinner and we all took showers. Being clean really made us all feel a lot better and more human. By 7pm or so it was time for bed. We put Wesley in his pack 'n play and turned out the lights. We had some trouble falling asleep because of pain, but eventually we were all asleep.

Day 2
The alarm went off at 5am and we got ready for the day. I pumped, nursed Wesley, and got ready. We applied Body Glide, packed our bags, and hit the road! Jarrod drove us to camp and we arrived in time for some breakfast. After meat, eggs, and pastries, we lined up to wait for the route to open at 7:50am.
We were not the first in line, which is unusual for us, but we did get out pretty quick. While we waited, we snapped a few pictures.
It was a bit of a chilly morning, but not nearly as cold as years past. We enjoyed some awesome neighborhoods, including one that had mimosas!
At the first cheering station we caught up with Wesley and Jarrod. I don't know how, but Wesley was asleep in the middle of screaming, clapping, and thousands of people. I insisted on walking him up when we went past. He was not thrilled...
Philip and Courtney were hurting pretty good by the time we got to lunch. We took our time again and I fed Wesley in the car while we ate. Once we were done with lunch, we hit the road again.

Shortly after lunch was a cheering station. We saw a bunch of Philip's family, which was awesome. And Philip got his official 3-day outfit...
Yeah, that's two boas, a tutu, and awesome glasses. :-) Right after we saw Philip's family, we saw my family! It was fantastic. That was mile 15 or so, I believe...

And things went downhill quickly after that. It was in the high 80s and the route was mostly in the sun. It was getting later in the day and was very hot. I walked ahead of Philip and Courtney for about 6 miles. It was brutally hot and mostly miserable. There weren't people cheering and the area we were walking through wasn't very pretty. It was a tough 6 miles to camp, but I made it. I walked 23 miles on Saturday and it was HARD! Courtney and Philip met up with me and we captured a very thankful 40 mile picture around 5:30pm.
After walking that far and having such a hard day, we were ready to eat and go to the hotel. We hit the food tent and had a delicious dinner of grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, and an assortment of desserts. I didn't eat much because I ate everything I could get my hands on during the last 6 miles of the walk.

After dinner, Jarrod took us back to the hotel. Jarrod had bathed Wesley and cared for him all afternoon while we walked. When we got back, I took a quick shower while Jarrod fed Wesley before I finished packing some stuff up and Jarrod left. He had to work on Sunday morning, so he left Wesley with us for the night. Courtney and Philip helped me take care of him, but around 7:30pm we were all ready for bed. We put Wesley in the pack 'n play and turned the lights out. Philip kept the TV on quietly...evidently there was a football game on. :-)

Day 3
We gained an hour and went to bed so early, so we were up way before the sun. The alarm was set for 5am, but we were up well before that. We packed up our things, got ready for the day, and went to the lobby with our bags to wait for my mother in law. She arrived before 6:15am and we packed up the car for camp.

Mary Jo dropped us at camp for breakfast and she had a date with Wesley. We grabbed breakfast and got in line for the bus. We were being bussed to a school in Dallas and started our walk from there. It was a cooler morning, but still gorgeous. We met some lovely people in line waiting for the bus, which was really fun. We got on a school bus around 7:30am and were on the route by 7:45am or so.

Philip and Courtney were hurting pretty good so I left them a few times. I didn't walk that much faster than them, but did wait for them at pit stops. We walked through beautiful neighborhoods in Dallas on Sunday morning. I was feeling really great, actually. My heart was so thankful to be able to be walking. I reflected on a few things:
Young survivors - the ones I know and the ones I don't. I know of several young women 35 and younger who have beat cancer or are fighting cancer. I was overwhelmed with pictures of young women who lost their battle on the route. I was overwhelmed with women cheering who were battling. We sat next to a medical crew member at dinner who told us about her sweet sister. She lost her battle at the age of 28, leaving behind a 14 month old baby. I snuggled Wesley a little tighter that night, thanking God for the opportunity to fight.
Those we've lost - I went to a funeral of a dear friend just a few short weeks ago. She was a vibrant 42 year old mama of 4 kids. She raised many other kids in our church. She was the most wonderful and joyful person, but lost her battle with cancer after a rough 6 month fight. Not fair. I'll keep walking. 
My boy - Sometimes in the midst of walking 60 miles it seems silly. Why exactly am I doing this? Am I really making a difference? Yes. I am part of a movement to change the world - to find a cure for breast cancer, and hopefully all cancer. I want to say to Wesley that I did what I could to make the world a better place. I want Wesley to grow up in a world where cancer is not a fear. I want him to be proud of me and know I did my best to make a difference. 
We were halfway through the day by pit stop 2. I found Mary Jo and Wesley and fed him. Wesley cheered all weekend in his Boob Man t-shirt and was a celebrity before the weekend was over. I fed him and we cheered for folks as we waited for Philip and Courtney to catch up with us. 8 more miles down!

We made it through 2 more cheering stations on Sunday and they were fantastic. By the time we got to lunch it was about 1pm. We ate sandwiches in the sun and rested our sore feet. We were just 2.5 miles to the end! We can do this!!
My favorite yard sign.
After lunch I walked with Courtney and Philip. I was determined to have us cross the finish line together, no matter what time it was. We enjoyed our walk and stopped to take this picture as we neared the finish line.
About 5 minutes after this picture was taken, we met up with our teammates, Laurie and Holly! It was really miraculous that we saw them - we just happened to meet at the same intersection at exactly the same time. Perfect. We walked the last 3/4 of a mile together, which was absolutely beautiful. Laurie and Holly energized us to make it the last short bit!

We finally made it to Holding at 3pm. This is where we receive our t-shirts and get to rest. There's food, bathrooms, water, and time to rest. We took our 60 mile photos and enjoyed time to catch up.

Before too long, we lined up for closing ceremony. This is hands down one of my favorite moments of my life. Getting married was beautiful. Holding Wesley for the first time was a miracle. And walking into closing ceremony is absolutely incredible. We lined up and got ready to end this 3-day journey.

Before long we were entering the area where closing ceremony was held. We walked from the gates at Fair Park to the back near the ferris wheel. It felt a bit like 7 miles, but I'm sure it wasn't. We were cheered on by hundreds of family and friends - it was very moving.

We raised $4.3 million dollars for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We covered DFW with pink, boobs, and walkers for 3 full days. People took notice that something remarkable was happening. People were nice to each other and relationships were built. Two sisters walked 60 miles and two husbands supported them (in two different ways!). Lots of love, compassion, and kindness was shared. It was 3 days of the way the world needs to be.

And because of that, I'm already registered to walk again in 2013. I invite you to join me by:
  • Donating - you can make a tax-deductible donation here. Interested in matching gifts? Click here!
  • Sharing your loved one - let me know about your fighter, survivor, or taken so I can walk for them. 
  • Walking with me - We're starting a new team this year called Walkin' Sista-tas and I want you to walk! If you have considered walking, I encourage you to join us this year. Questions? Let me know!
If you have questions about the 3-day for the Cure please be sure to check out the3day.org. If you have questions about my walking experiences or questions about the event, check out www.leannethewalker.com






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