October 27, 2011 by Julie
This weekend I participated in the Susan G Komen 3day for the cure. I am so grateful for this weekend in Atlanta. I feel like I went through a roller coaster of emotion. I loved every minute of freezing our tails off in the morning cold, sleeping between my snoring friends, driving in circles all over Atlanta and most of all exploring all the emotion inside of me that I try so often to ignore. I do believe I was exactly where I needed to be with the group of people I needed to be with.
Breast cancer has affected my family in so many ways but it hasn’t been as personal as it has been for many of the people I came in contact with during this 3day. In my mind it’s always felt “manageable” for some reason. To be there at the event really put some reality to it that I had not experienced before. I haven’t ever watched someone die from breast cancer. I haven’t ever had a friend diagnosed. My mom’s diagnosis didn’t even really seem “real” to me because it was after she had her breasts removed. On Friday my friend showed me the memorial tents and though they were moving….it didn’t really beckon me inside. I had fun encouraging walkers and just being with my team.
Saturday…was a big day. Something really hit me. I saw way too many buttons, signs, tshirts with people missing their mamas and I realized that could have been me. I felt so humbled and grateful for the gift of research and genetic testing and most of all for the voice inside my mother’s heart that led her to have her surgery before anything grew out of control in her body. Then my thoughts quickly went to my children and what I must do in order to ensure they aren’t wearing buttons with my picture. It was like my heart was being stepped on. I felt so heavy. I feel so sad that my mom knows I carry the gene. I don’t know how in the world I will feel when I find out someday if I have passed it along to my own children. How will I feel as they make decisions to deal with that diagnosis? What if they don’t choose what I think they should choose? What if they are afraid?
The rest of Saturday was me coming back to peace with what had been opened up in my heart. I had a moment of clarity on our walk back to camp when the sun was shining bright over the empty parking lot and I realized that my path is clear. I will do the hard things that I have to do to stay healthy. I will hold that moment in my heart for a very long time. It was a content feeling…just peace at being where I was.
Sunday was another great day…mixed with so much emotion and so many laughs. Our team had found their groove and we were so happy to be together. After working all morning we sat and ate our lunch quietly while we listened to the music. I could have sat there all day just in the presence of my new friends. It was perfect. We gave our crew captain a tshirt that we all signed. I don’t think any of us were able to express in a 10 word little blurb how grateful we were for him. For his dedication to the cause. For his vulnerability for sharing his story. I feel like I truly gained a friend for life this weekend. He was like an older brother to me…listening knowingly…understanding all the emotions that I was trying to put into words…happily watching me “get it”. I know there was so much going on in his heart that weekend. I don’t know him well enough to really understand but I will. He needed to come to Atlanta and we needed him to be there. He needed to see how what he was doing WAS and IS making a difference to people like me. We were right where we needed to be.
The final walk into holding was so much more than I expected it to be. It was the connection of the walkers and the crew realizing that we were there for each other in a way that noone else really understands. Inside where aching feet turned to dancing feet and the victory everyone felt for pushing themselves to the limit and beyond what they thought they were capable of. Looking around and seeing all the pink survivor shirts. Seeing women my age in pink…my age! Almost none of them know MY story. Almost none of them know that I will be there next year hopefully post surgery. Who else in that space was just like me? Who there was too afraid to be proactive and now wears pink or worse…isn’t there at all. They walked for me. They crewed for me. So that I can be brave. We walked in a line out to the closing ceremony and I was overcome with gratitude. Their eyes all saying “we know…you can do it”…knowing my team was there with me….in front of me and behind me not letting me run away. I am not alone.
Category The Journey | Tags: , 3day, breast cancer, crew, decisions