Monday, September 11, 2006

Meet Anne Day - Marathon Walker! We did it. 60K over two days in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. And our team raised over $24,000 for the cause! Over 5,200 walkers helped to raise $17.2 million for breast cancer research through this event.

There were six on our team (Chicks out Walking) . We were among the first thousand walkers to cross the fnish line and even had enough energy to boogie into the stadium - not bad for a group of "old broads."

It's been three days since we completed the walk, and I needed that time - not to recoup, but to reflect on all that happened and the whole experience.

For the past six months we have been training for this weekend, walking an average of 30K a week and during these walks, we've talked and shared stories of our lives and become closer as a result. We built our own support network.

What struck me most about the whole event, was how much people care. They really want to see a cure for this disease. From the dedication of the walkers of all shapes and sizes; the team of volunteers who cheered us on; to the people on the street, who came out to greet us, sharing food and nourishment. One elderly gentleman even provided a rose for each walker. You were made to feel cherished, as if you were doing something special for mankind and people kept thanking us for doing the walk.

On the Wednesday, together with another member of our team, I had the opportunity to be in the audience of CityLine where were got pampered, receiving many lovely gifts. We also heard from Dr. Marla Shapiro and Dr. Robert Buckman who talked about changing our vocabulary and attitudes towards cancer. In particular, I liked his sentiments about people who have had cancer. He didn't like the term survivor as it implied that others had died, and the survivor was just coping. He preferred the word "thriver" and I could relate to that.

As a breast cancer survivor, I found myself revered by the other walkers at this event. In the closing ceremonies for example, we had to walk through an aisle of honour where people cried, and reached out to touch you, which frankly was a bit overwhelming and made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.

You see I don't really see myself as a survivor. I think I am someone who, yes, has had cancer, but that is not who I am, nor does it define me in any way. I like the concept of thriving, because I've moved on. I have learned some invaluable lessons from having cancer - an appreciation of what is important in life and how I want to spend my time, but I refuse to get caught up in the negativity of illness or to hold a pity party for myself.

When a couple of friends told me that they were going to walk on my behalf, I realized that it was important for me to walk for myself. I wanted to prove that I could do this, that I had the stamina and health to push myself physically and emotionally. And I did.

Am I proud of what we accomplished? You bet. Would I do it again? Without question. It is all part of ensuring that our daughters never have to deal with this disease. It is all part of thriving, and it is a vital part of living life to the fullest.

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