Friday, August 20, 2010

Adventures of a Pink Panther Bra

My friend Amy started something in Cleveland. She talked a fireman into posing for a photo wearing her bra. We later got another group of firemen to pose with both of us, and two of them were wearing our bras. I haven't gotten copies of those pics yet.
In Michigan, I designed and created a pink panther bra (our team is the Pink Panther Patrol) When I spotted a fireman on day two, I couldn't resist carrying on the tradition, and from there it blossomed.

Final count, 2 firemen (one is in a red medical shirt) 3 firemen/EMT's, a doctor, a policeman (he was the hardest to coerce), my walking partner for San Diego, and my sweet hubby!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Love, Kindness and Compassion

I was on another Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure event this past weekend. I cannot express how meaningful these events are and how firmly I believe in what they support and do for the community and breast cancer research and detection.
On Saturday night, while we were dancing, this beautiful rainbow appeared over our camp. To me it was like a sign from all of those we have lost to breast cancer. I think they were trying to tell us how proud they are of what we're doing, and that even though they may not physically be with us, they continue to be with us on the 3-Day walk.
I had someone ask me how this past weekends event went and I honestly think it was my favorite one out of the 12 I have participated in over the years. Well, that got me wondering why. At first, I really wasn't sure why myself. I just knew I had a great time with my teammates, and the walkers. But that always is true. So what made this one stand out as my favorite? It surely wasn't the 90+ degrees and high humidity. It also wasn't due to no problems. We had a few bicycle repairs that were necessary throughout the weekend. So why? I think it was because last year was so overly emotional for me after losing my Grandfather the night before the event started, and these people, these teammates and walkers were a tremendous support system for me during that time. They showed me the true love and compassion that people have for each other. Some of the support came from people I'd never met before, and wouldn't have recognized if they were there this year. Some support touched me in a way I'll never forget. Being able to be back in this community, without the raw pain of loss, allowed me to recognize the love they had shared and then let me share that same love with others over this event. This community of people represents the very best in humankind. They are out there year round fundraising and training so that someday none of us will suffer another loss to cancer. They are there with smiles and laughter even though their feet are covered in blisters and each step is excrutiating. They are up at an ungodly hour so we can all have a hot breakfast to start our hard day off in a great way. They are massaging sweaty bodies to give someone a bit of relief. They are cleaning up after someone so they don't have to take those few extra steps after a long day of walking. They are making you laugh on every street corner. They, both walkers and crew, are everyday heros.
Our Michigan Route Safety Bicyclists have a tradition. We go out for breakfast away from camp on Saturday morning. This started as a fluke one year when we were passing a place known for their potato pancakes and we had some time before our designated spots to work. It continues because it allows us to reconnect with each other and also get to know our new members in a little bit quieter environment than the 3 day breakfast. While we were dining this year, we had the most amazing waitress. Before we were finished with our meal she came up and pointed out her vehicle. She asked us to please go out and each take a hat she had in the back. They were breast cancer ball hats with fiber optic lights in the ribbon. She just gave them to us! She was hoping to get off her shift in time to go out and cheer for the walkers, and giving us these hats was a way she could contribute to the event. She also offered to help us come up with some things to sell as fundraisers for next years event. She displayed the type of kindness one encounters throughout a 3 day event.
On Day 1, I stopped where a boy was passing out cups of lemonade. I thanked him for taking time out of his summer day to support the walkers and the adult that was with him told me that he knows the value of what we are doing. He has already lost his mother to this dreadful disease. He had to have been under 9 years old. I cried as I rode away from them.
I saw survivors in their yards with signs of thanks, I saw young and old passing out treats and cold water through the weekend. I saw almost an entire block in Dearborn with the best decorated lawns and sprinklers and people cheering. I saw a cheering station in Plymouth that was so crowded, I couldn't find my sister. I saw a walker who had just lost her Dad on Tuesday who was still walking.
I saw love, kindness and compassion everywhere! I hope that someday there will not be a need for the Breast Cancer walks, but until that day I will continue to participate in these events.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Have you ever been blown away by the amount of strength a person has within themselves?

You think about how they just keep doing, no matter how bad things are. Sometimes there isn't even the slightest whimper of complaint. Other times there are sobs of heart-wrenching sadness. But they just keep moving, living, loving.

This past weekend I was crewing the Cleveland Susan G. Komen 3-Day for a Cure. The strength I witnessed in people was amazing. These women and men, both walkers and crew persevere through a very trying 3 days. They overcome emotional trauma and physical limitations as they are on this event. They walk through blisters that are sometimes larger than toes. They cheer until their voices are gone. They wake up at the butt-crack of dawn so that others may have a hearty breakfast. They pop blisters on sweaty feet so others may take a few more steps. They support someone else even when they are in need of support. They laugh, they cry, they hug, they yell-both in frustration and in joy, they cheer and they keep doing. No matter what.

I dont believe I have the strength that these people do, but I was able to be a part of their lives for the event. This year, a friend lost her loving husband to a very quick battle with cancer. She buried him on Thursday and showed up on Friday to walk 60 miles. As she walked, a heart-shaped blister formed on her foot. You never walk a 3 day alone, those you walk for are with you each step even if they have lost their fight. In her words, she was there because "It's important to me now more than ever" and "it was very therapeutic". She is in the 2nd picture of this post, flanked by 2 of her safety girls. She's a pillar of strength as I struggle through one of the more emotional moments I had on the event.

A teammate struggled with a kidney stone. Passing it in a dark porta-potty. He never uttered a complaint that I heard. I didn't even know he was struggling. Strength. He made a commitment and he followed through on that even though most people would have bowed out and gone home.

A walker still in chemo woke up sick every morning and her body ached even before the walk began because of those treatments pushed to walked on one painful step after another. When she could no longer continue for the day, her husband who had severe shin splints refused to give up because he was walking ALL 60 miles to support his wife who is in chemo. They met at the last pit stop of the day and journeyed into camp hand in hand. Strenth and love displayed in the finest manner.

Everyone who participates has a story. We all have our reasons why, and people we are there in honor of, or remembrance of. There are painful moments, yet we know that we are doing something that might someday help others avoid losing their loved ones. There are happy moments as friends laugh and play together. There are moments when you're not sure you can go on, yet there is always someone there to help you, to support you. Each person on the event is an inspiration. Each person involved shows you the very best in life. Each person is a pillar of strength and it was an honor to be with all of them this past weekend.

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