Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Avon Walk

So, this past weekend, I walked in my third Avon walk. I went knowing it would also be my last. It was bittersweet to say the least.

Yesterday, I woke up and took a little walk around the neighborhood. And no, I'm not crazy. And yes, I had just walked 30 miles the weekend before. But I could feel my muscles tightening up so I knew I needed to get them moving, even if it was just a slow, leisurely walk!

When I got home from the walk, I sat down to write a message on facebook. It was a lot longer than I thought it would be. But re-reading it today, I realize I can't say it any better. So today, I'm going to just copy and paste that message over here, because even though it's not polished, or proof-read, I think it perfectly sums up the last three years for me!


So I just took a short (slow) walk around the neighborhood, and as I watched the clouds roll in, I did some thinking. I'll share with you, and it's long (for which I'm sorry, but not too sorry!)

Doing my third Avon walk this year was, in a word, amazing.

There were some bumps in the road (literally and figuratively). There were too many stories that made me cry. Stories that made me smile. Hugs and cheering abounded.

I spent the entire walk with at least one of my teammates Sue, Cathy, and Laura (and most of the time all of them) around me. We had a some friends come walk with us for small bits of time. I got to see my daughter Abigail shine as part of the youth crew, and give the rest of my family a HUGE hug and walk with them for the last mile-ish.

The sun shone, the rain stayed away.

3 years ago I did my first avon walk, mostly because of Rita and Deanna, and joined this team One More Mile. Little did I know that other friends would join, that people who joined and I didn't know before the walk would become my friends too. I didn't know there would be so much laughter and so many tears, and sometimes both at the same time. I didn't know how much the kindness of strangers would encourage me to take one more step when I thought I couldn't. I didn't know how good a hug would feel as I was crying to get on a bus when I couldn't take one more step, despite desperately wanting to keep going. I didn't know that this year, I'd be the one who stopped and helped people and encouraged them and told them it will be okay as they cried getting on the bus because as much as they wanted to, they just couldn't walk one more step at that moment.

 I didn't know that over the course of three years, I would raise over $10,000 to help fund research, education, and treatment/testing for other women. I didn't know that I'd walk a combined total of 106.2 miles.

I didn't know how much I would cry at the finish the line the first year because darn-it, I had done it! I didn't know how much I'd cry at the finish line this year, because it was the last year and I was surrounded by so much love and some pretty awesome people.

In 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It changed my life in some ways I'll never be able to accurately put into words. But it was the reason I walk in 2012. And again in 2013, and once more this year. Cancer sucks. Treatments are long and grueling. Complications only exasperate those feelings. But there are some beautiful and bright moments amongst all of that. The Avon Walk is one of those for me - despite feeling long and grueling.

It's been a good three years. This year, I felt stronger and healthier than I have at the other two years. This year, I finally feel healed from everything I endured from breast cancer. My body is no longer my enemy. It's a good place to be.

I will not for one minute regret ever walking in my Avon walks, but I also don't regret not signing up for next year. I had three good years. It was what I needed. And now I need to take a break. So I will.

But I know next year, as the walk happens, I will feel a bit of sadness. I won't have my walk sisters (who will always be like sisters in my heart) - Cathy, Laura, Sue - beside me. But I'll have the memories in my heart. And I'll go cheer for those who are walking again (Get ready Laura, Diane, Sally and anyone else who's walking... I'm coming with my voice ready to scream and some popsicles if it's hot!)

All of this to say, thank you to everyone - yes every single person - who donated, who cheered me (on facebook, on twitter, via e-mail), who prayed for us, who sent good thoughts, to the new friends I met on the walk, to those of you who helped carry bags when I needed it, to everyone who has been a part of Team One More Mile - Rita, Deanna (and mom), Becky, Jill, Diane, Sally, Charyn, all of Team Amazeboobs, And of course to my family who dealt with all the training walks, the fundraising, who support me, cheer for me and love me (even when I'm tired, crabby, and worn out!)
Pretty much thank you to each and every one of you. I couldn't have done any of this without you.


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