Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Final Countdown

Well, it is finally here - the week of the walk. Over six months ago, I committed to walk 39.3 miles in honor of Melissa Coldiron White. Back in March, my main focus was reaching the minimum fundraising amount of $1,800. However, after I secured that goal, my focus then turned to spreading awareness about breast cancer. I spent several weeks posting about cancer and the steps we need to take in order to lower our risk. While I greatly enjoy writing this blog and sharing my knowledge to spread awareness, I have taken the past week off in order to really prepare myself for this upcoming weekend.

Spending hours each day walking leaves one with a lot of time to reflect and meditate. My goal each day that I walk is to stay calm and to not focus on the milage ahead. It is incredibly difficult to occupy my mind for hours at a time and that is why I recruited my boyfriend, Rob, to be my training partner. We have walked countless miles each day, from sun up to sun down. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that walking with a partner is much easier. Having someone to talk with truly helps to pass the time, while preventing my mind from focusing on the pain in my toes or the wind at my face.

No matter how many miles I walk each day, I know the journey that lies ahead is going to be a true challenge. However, all I have to do is survive walking 39.3 miles over two days; this pales in comparison to surviving cancer. Some people are truly unaware of how much of a battle it is to take on the fight against cancer. Breast cancer alone can be incredibly traumatic for females due to it's attack on their womanhood.  Depending on the specific stage one's cancer has progressed to, woman could potentially lose both their breast and their hair - this is not something that we are willing to give up without a fight.

At any stage of breast cancer, one is faced with life changing decisions everyday. Not only does one have to determine wether or not they are going to remove the cancerous part of their breast tissue or all of the goodies, but they are then faced with chemotherapy and radiation. Both chemo and radiation are truly as bad as the rumors. Imagine a chemical coursing through your veins that is strong enough to kill cancerous cells... sound fun? Not at all. It takes an incredibly tough person to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation. It is not some two week process; it can go on for months at a time. That means being immunocompromised for months, having little to no appetite for months, losing an excessive amount of weight and hair, for months. Now, immunocompromised may be an unfamiliar term for some people but, to explain it best, it means one must stay away from large crowds, be especially cautious around small children, and may even have to be wary of receiving fresh flowers due to any bacteria that may linger on the petals. For these patients, even the slightest cold could lead to a potentially fatal illness.

Now take a moment to process all of that while remembering that the majority of women with breast cancer are in their forties. Imagine losing your breast, losing your hair, and not being able to attend your child's first kindergarten play.

So, the next time you come across someone who has survived or is currently fighting breast cancer, keep in mind the battle they have or are still fighting. Let them know that they have a strength in them more powerful than you could imagine and remind them that you care. As for those of us fortunate enough to be free of any cancerous cells, be grateful and do not take anything for granted. Take a moment to think if that cigarette is worth taking on the fight against cancer...

Although I have taken the past week off, this will be my only post this week. After my clinical tomorrow the journey to Charlotte, NC will begin! I will return next week to share the incredible stories of my walk. I thank everyone who has supported me in my fundraising and if anyone is still interested, it is not too late - donate HERE.