Monday, June 15, 2009

Rockin' the Race for the Cure

I am furiously scribbling this at the tail end of a long night of writing. I can't promise my best work, but the thoughts, the feelings, the stories had to get out of my head to make room for more. My brain can only hold so much since my marathon viewings of the Real Housewives of New Jersey have sapped me of precious brain cells. I'll upload photos later when iPhoto isn't being as finicky and pissy as a tantruming three-year old not getting any sugar cereal in the grocery cart. Forgive my babbling. If this were a writing test I'd fail. Luckily no one reads this with a virtual red pen.

Saturday marked my second Race for the Cure. I walked for my friend Jen, mom of three, wife to one, who just had a bilateral mastectomy today.

I teamed up with my pal Christy who is training for the 3-day walk in DC in October. She's the brains (and let's be honest, the beauty) behind our marvelous team name: Stop the War in My Rack. We, along with about 10 other friends, walked the 5K on a hot June morning. Some of us walked the route twice to support Christy's training for the grueling 60 mile walk she's conquering come October. I walked with old friends and new. Tutugirl1345 jumped in to join us, so we could finally meet in real life after chatting on blogs and Twitter for months.

The shower of pink was blinding. The beauty of women even more so.

Our team shirts (which you can buy for $15...100% goes to help Christy's fundraising...just leave a comment with your email address) garnered a ton of attention. Strangers were snapping photos of us, and the folks at Fuze gave us our pick of drinks just because they dug our shirts. It was the first time I didn't mind strangers totally checking out my rack and laughing. I puffed my Girls out proudly.

Here's where you can read my observations from last year's race.

As for 2009, here's what captured me:

Men turned out in throngs. Had they turned out in thongs we'd be onto something. Um, I totally didn't mean it *that* way. Men were out in full force supporting their wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, colleagues. They wore pink. They teared up. They cheered. They embraced. They were brewing with raw emotion and bared it unabashedly.

Children had pink signs pinned to their backs reading "In memory of Mommy." Children. A 10-month old baby. Three-year old twins. Five-year old girls. Children the same age as my Bird and Deal.

Young women crowded the field during the survivors' parade and salute. Young women. Women younger than me.

I met and wept with one mom whose sign bore the name of her daughter who died of breast cancer. At age 32. Her best friend died recently of the disease. She said it was the first year she was walking in memory of someone instead of in celebration. I shudder in awe at her resolve.

The 88-year old woman rocking on her porch who was a beacon of beating the odds last year was there again. Cancer-free since 1980. Standing ovation and curtsies to her.

Mother and daughter walking arm in arm, oblivious to the hubbub around them. The girl's shirt reads "We helped our mom beat breast cancer." Hallelujah.

And I'd be remiss to not shout out to the masses of organizers volunteers. We, the racers, had the easiest job. The volunteers did all the hard work. They sweated it out in sweltering heat with no one to applaud their efforts. We owe our fantastic experience to them.

And to the women battling breast cancer, I salute you. I honor you. Your stories are inspiring, if not overwhelming.

Early detection is key. Cop a feel. No one knows your Girls better than you do. Hop in the shower and poke around. Get to know your breasts, ladies. I turned 40 last year and got myself a mammogram for my birthday.

If you are in the Raleigh area, the YWCA of the Greater Triangle has an Encoreplus Program to support early detection. Free screenings and breast exams for women 40+ are scheduled twice a month at the YWCA at 554 E. Hargett Street and at Rex Hospital at 2800 Blue Ridge Road. Contact lkimble@ywcatriangle.org or call 919.834.7386 ext. 19 for deets.

Do it. Early detection got Jen treatment right away. You owe it yourself, to your husband, to your children, to your family. It's their body too.

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Maureen at IslandRoar said...

Kudos to you and your team. Great name, by the way. Sounds like an amazing emotional experience.

Jen L. said...

Wonderful post. Congrats to your team and thanks for this beautiful description of your experience.

@sweetbabboo said...

Good for you. I can't even imagine the emotion that the walk must have surrounding it.