A few weeks back I participated in my first Susan G. Komen 3 day 60 mile walk. I started training for the walk in the summer, I use the word “training” loosely because I didn’t train as much as I should, which made for a very nervous 42 year old on September 12, 2014. I had no idea what to expect, going in I seriously thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the full 60 miles.
DAY 1 started as a beautiful morning, crisp and clear. I checked in, found my walking partner Jessica. Listening to opening ceremonies, is when it started to change for me. The energy in the crowd and on stage was electrifying. I never experienced anything like it. My emotions were high – pretty much crying throughout the whole thing. Actually, I was emotional at least a week or so before the walk. Many thoughts of my mom and how I wish she could be with me to experience the walk. She would of LOVED it! Then with hesitation in our step – we started walking! As you can see it wasn’t all walking – we had some fun along the way.
I was blown away by the community support. Many homes decorated for the event and cheered us on as we walked through their neighborhoods. At one point we walked down a street that was fully decorated – every home participated, which made for some emotional moments but fun ones too. At one point during the first day a fellow walker asked us if it was our first 3 day walk, after we told her yes she said something that I fully didn’t understand – WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!
Day 2 started better than I would of thought. With the help of the fantastic medical team, I got my feet taken care of and stretched out so my body felt pretty good. If you choose to do the 3 day walk PLEASE take advantage of medical if you need it. I honestly don’t think I would of been able to finish without their assistance.
Despite the leg and foot pain I carried on, motivated more than ever to finish this walk. We were feeling good until lunchtime when the rain came. Our last 12 or so miles were spent walking in the rain, thank goodness for extra socks and ponchos. We just laughed along the way, because what else would you do?
After returning to our home for 2 nights – the Philadelphia Convention Center, we showered and rested up for the last day of our 60 mile journey. I had an opportunity to see something truly special. Normally we would celebrate the first person in the race, but at SGK it’s not about a race but a journey. Every evening they throw a party with music and speakers to inspire and encourage us. That doesn’t happen until the LAST walker comes through those doors. Everyone was there to cheer them on as they raise the flag.
If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings then let me share the Remembrance Tent. This was off to the side in a corner of the convention center so I didn’t notice it until late on that 2nd night. There are 7 cities throughout the US hosting a Susan G. Komen walk. Each city has their own white tent that represents walkers, their family and friends that have lost their breast cancer battle. Philadelphia had their tent enclosed within a larger tent. People could have a private moment to reflect on the walk and the loved ones they lost. You could write a note on the tent or in journals or just sit quietly, I did both and also shared a good cry with a total stranger – and it felt so right and NEEDED to happen.
Day 3 - the end of my 3 day journey. I walked slower, taking in every moment and reflecting on the last few days. Remember back on the first day when a walker said – WELCOME TO THE FAMILY? I didn’t fully understand what she meant until that 3rd day. We are all a family with one goal, finding a cure for breast cancer (and all cancer) and being a support system for one another when we need it.
As I crossed the finish line, I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, accomplishment, and love for those around me that came out to support my journey. I had my mom with me throughout the 3 days, this was personal for me as it is for so many. Going into the 3 Day Walk I thought this was a one time thing. Each day of the walk that feeling became less and less, now I am looking forward to my next 3 day walk. When you do a 3 day walk it’s a commitment and a life changing experience that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. This journey was a healing process for me, and I am internally grateful that I was given this opportunity.
When you do a Susan G. Komen walk 75% of the net proceeds raised help support Susan G. Komen’s Research and Training Grant Program and large public health outreach programs for women and men facing breast cancer, while the remaining 25% helps fund local community and Affiliate support and outreach programs. To find out more, to sign up to volunteer or walk, or to make a donation, go to http://www.the3day.org/. Hope to see you next year at the Philadelphia 3 Day – who is joining me?
We will NEVER forget and NEVER Give Up!