This weekend my friends and I participated in the local Susan G. Komen 5k for Breast Cancer Awareness!
A few short months ago one of ‘us’ was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer. I think it’s fair to say that news shook us all up and at a time when we were all feeling horribly powerless, the idea of an upcoming 5k was exactly what we needed. It was something to throw ourselves into, to give us some sense of control.
My friend’s name is Colette and as I mentioned, this is her second battle against the disease. Originally diagnosed in 2008, she opted to undergo a double mastectomy thinking that would be the end of her breast cancer story. Then back in June of this year she found a ping pong ball sized lump under her arm. The biopsy determined it was invasive breast cancer and back in August Colette began her second fight.
I don’t really want to get into how difficult it is to watch a dear friend go through this horrible battle. Cancer has affected everyone in some form or another and I think we all know how it feels. This walk, for me, was more about power. It was about hope, and it was about fighting. It was showing Colette that she has us behind her. That’s what I want to focus on right now.
So this past Saturday myself and all of our friends made our way to Linn Park in Birmingham, Alabama for the 5k. Most every group there had personalized shirts made for their team. These are the ones we had made. Fight Like A Girl!!
Some of us even took it a little farther with pink extensions or feathers in our hair. We also had pink ‘war paint’ under our eyes (think football marks). It’s 8:30 AM and we’re ready to go!
The festivities kick off with a Survivor’s Parade. The women are separated into groups determined by the years they’ve survived since diagnosis. It started with 1 – 5 Years and went all the way up to 30+!! How inspiring!!
The lady in the front was the honoree this year. I don’t remember the exact number of years she has survived but each of those pink necklaces around her neck signify one year, so it’s been a long time!
My friend was in this first group as she’s survived for 3 years so far, with many more to go!
Some of you may have attended one of these marathons before. For those that haven’t, the power of this moment can’t really be put into words. I am not a ‘cryer’, especially not in public, but at this moment tears are falling down my cheeks. Cheering these women who have had to fight this horrible battle was awe-inspiring. My friend, Colette, is awe-inspiring.
After the Survivor’s Parade they gathered together to release white doves.
And then it was time to walk. We had a little Zumba warm-up before it began, which I rocked the socks off of, and then we went to find a place in the marathon crowd.
This was my view at the beginning. We were packed in there like sardines!! There’s a specific moment in crowds like this that the crowd kind of squeezes in on me and I realize I’m in the bottom 10 percentile height-wise and I’m about to get the life trampled out of me. That, my friends, is a scary moment. Panic attack much?
Fortunately the crowd starts spreading out after the first 10 minutes or so. By the end of Mile 1, this was my view:
People everywhere! I think they estimated 20,000 participants. What an awesome sight!
The fun thing about such a marathon is the unexpected comraderie you find. Practically everyone you pass – or who passes you – speaks. Sometimes it’s a comment about the team shirt, sometimes it’s how bad the heat sucks (We are in Alabama, after all.). Whatever it is, you just share a certain bond.
Colette’s husband is a professional marathoner/tri-athelete. He finished the 5k in about 20 minutes. He, however, is a freak of nature.
I am not a runner. You may be able to see from my picture above that I was in the walking crowd. Fortunately for me, some of the friends in my group were also members of the walking crowd. We had a beautiful moment at the end of the race where we linked arms and walked through the finish line together….
…one hour and 14 minutes after we began. Suck It, Runners!!