The Fight is Far From Over

5 Dec

Last week the Governor announced that they would be burying a a 375th anniversary time capsule filled with items that tell the story of Hartford and Connecticut in 2010. Among the items is a 2010 Race for the Cure t-shirt and the question, “Have you found a cure for cancer yet?” for those who unearth it at the 400th anniversary. Who doesn’t want to see the cure found within their lifetime? At 25 years old, there’s a good chance it could happen during mine.

But then, sometimes something happens and I take a step back and wonder exactly how far we’ve come. A few weeks ago I was working the Komen table at a school fair where teachers were coming to get their flu shot and could also pick up information for teacher credit unions and that sort of thing. All afternoon I chatted with people and heard their personal stories of breast cancer in their family and sympathized over the loss of a loved one or celebrated a survival. Not many men stopped by the table, but there also weren’t many men attending the fair. Towards the end of the day, two men wandered in and stopped at a couple of tables and then stopped in front of mine. One of them started picking up a brochure while saying “For my wife…” somewhat sheepishly. I quietly directed him to the pamphlet entitled “Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too” and reminded him (or so I thought I was doing) that he should pick it up for himself, since men can also get breast cancer. He paused, looking confused, and said, “Really? I didn’t know men could get breast cancer.” This is something I have to constantly remind myself is not common knowledge. For so many years breast cancer was considered a woman’s cancer, why would this man have any reason to think otherwise if breast cancer had never touched his life before? So while I was happy to have given him that knowledge, and hopefully he took that home and remembered it, I have to remember that there are so many people out there, women and men, who haven’t been educated on the facts of breast cancer.

So our work is far from over. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, and yet sometimes I have to remind myself of it. The energy at a 3-Day Closing Ceremony when they tell us we’ve raised $5.5 million sometimes makes me feel as though we must be so close. And maybe we are. But we can’t stop pushing and walking and fund raising and educating with 110% of what we have until the cures are found.

Join Team Twitter ATL in October 2011 for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Donate to my 2011 Atlanta 3-Day walk.

Starstruck

22 Sep

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post, but here we are a week later. Last Wednesday I took the trip up to Boston for the PROMISE ME book tour. I had been talking about it for weeks to my friends and family, so excited that I was going to meet Nancy Brinker. To me, she’s a celebrity. I was way more excited to meet her than I ever would be to meet any actor or actress. My friends who know my passion for breast cancer and Susan G. Komen were really excited for me, but for my friends and co-workers who aren’t as familiar, I think they thought my level of enthusiasm was a bit strange. But oh well. So I took the trip up to Massachusetts, parked in Newton and took the T into Boston. I grabbed a burrito and walked down to the Borders on Boylston Street. I arrived about an hour and a half early (thinking there would be a line of pinked out women and men) but found that the small space the program was to be held in wasn’t set up yet. So I parked myself on the floor and chatted with the employees as they were setting up chairs and bringing in stacks of PROMISE ME. I grabbed myself a front row seat when they finished and then walked to the cafe to grab something to drink. On my way back, I saw her! She was standing with a group of women and I awkwardly stared and walked back to my seat.

A few minutes later the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure got up and introduced Nancy (I’m calling her Nancy because she did). While she was reading a bit of Nancy’s bio, I became aware of the fact that Nancy was standing about a foot away from me to my right (I was sitting on the end of the aisle) and it took every bit of will power I had not to look up at her and stare with starstruck eyes.

After being introduced, she talked for about 20 minutes about why she wrote the book and her experience writing it. How difficult it was to have to re-live some moments of her life and of Suzy’s death. She took questions for about 10 minutes and then signed books. I was so nervous walking up to her that all I could say was “I’m so glad you were able to come to Boston, thank you for being here”, and she smiled and said thank you. I had planned a lot more to say to her, practiced it in my head; but as soon as I was in front of her it all disappeared. I’m actually surprised I came up with that on the spot. After that I left the bookstore and walked through a couple of stores before walking back to the T.

I’m sure there are a few people reading this wondering how I could get so worked up over meeting someone who they may have never heard of. Nancy Brinker may not be a household name, but I think Susan G. Komen is, or it will be. She is someone that I have admired for years as someone who was driven to do something positive for breast cancer during a time when breast cancer was never talked about as something other than a “women’s cancer”. If you read PROMISE ME, you learn that she started the organization with $200. I can’t imagine what it is like to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and I hope that I never find out. But when I read this book, it sheds light on how much scarier it would have been to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s or 80s. She shares with us that in 1974, over 90,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. 33,000 died. Can you imagine that? During that time mammograms were available but not widely utilized; less than 20% of women had regular breast exams.

But the statistic that shocked me the most; she writes, “‘During the ten years of the Vietnam War, about 58,000 American men and women died,’ I told Norman the next morning at breakfast. ‘During that same ten years, 339,000 American women died of breast cancer.'”

Since Susan G. Komen for the Cure came on the scene, statistics like these have changed drastically. Not just because of the money that Komen gives to research to help find the cures, but simply because they were one of the first organizations to talk about breast cancer directly, when previously it had been a taboo subject. She is one of the most driven, passionate women I have ever now had the privilege to meet, and I can’t imagine what this world would be like without her and without Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Atlanta 2011!

8 Aug

The people have spoken and it looks like I’ll be traveling to Atlanta, GA for the 2011 3-Day for the Cure! I’m really excited because we’ve formed Team Twitter ATL! If you’d like to join us in Atlanta in 2011, contact me or Jay or Twitter and we’ll give you the team password! I’m really looking forward to getting to know my teammates from around the country and support each other through fundraising and training! So far Team Twitter ATL is Jay, me and Lauren Yarmer!

It feels a bit odd to have already signed up for a 3-Day for 2011 when I’ve only just finished my 2010 walk and the season has barely begun, but that doesn’t make me any less excited! I hope you’ll join us! I’m already planning my fundraisers and I’m wondering how early is too early to start fundraising… I got so many great ideas from everyone this year on Twitter and I can’t wait to get them going! Definitely going to have a yard sale in the spring, and do some fundraising in front of a local store. I’m also going to try and get some of my teacher friends involved and get their kids to do penny wars, it seems like so much fun!

I’ve also been inspired to get way more involved this year with the pre-3-Day activities. I’ve never attended a Get Started meeting or done a training walk with others, but this year I’m going to! I really haven’t experienced everything the 3-Day has to offer but I want to get to know the other walkers and get as much out of the experience as possible. I had such a great time in Boston walking by myself and getting to know others that I want to keep it going!

Can you tell I’m excited!?

3-Day for the Cure 2011 – You decide!

31 Jul

Because you all were so amazing to me this year during the Boston 3-Day for the Cure with your comments and tweets, I thought it would be a good idea to as YOU where I should register for the 2011 3-Day walk! You only get to vote once, so make it good! I’ve already done DC and Boston, so those aren’t in the choices. And in the comments, tell me WHY you voted for that particular city!

And while you’re thinking about it, make sure you check out Tésa Nicolanti who is currently walking the 3-Day for the Cure in Cleveland as the Energizer Keep Going Blogger! She’s also on Twitter, @2wired2tired. Send her encouragement!

Discoveries

27 Jul

The flag that I got to carry during Opening Ceremony said Discoveries on it. It was part of the “Lifetime” series, which includes Birthdays, Reunions, Weddings and so on… thing that everyone should get to participate in during their lifetime. The meaning of the flag continued on throughout the weekend, as I discovered a lot about myself and lot about those I walked with.

In general, Day 1 goes by pretty quickly because you’re fueled by the excitement of all of your training and fundraising finally coming to an end. Day 2 is usually the hardest because it is the longest walking day and you’re tired from Day 1. Day 3 is usually a bit easier but the mileage is shorter and you know the end is in sight! For me, Day 3 was the hardest.  But we walked through beautiful Cambridge, Harvard Square, through the MIT campus and over the Charles into Boston. We walked through the Commons and through the city. I love Boston and this was a great way to see my favorite city. We walked through Southie and right down to the shore and had lunch by the ocean. Having grown up on the coast of Maine and then moving inland to central Connecticut, I miss the ocean.

The heat on Day 3 at times seemed unbearable. I had to stop in the shade every chance I got to catch my breath and cool off. We walked over so many bridges in the full sun I thought I’d never make it, and the last 3 miles after lunch seemed like an eternity. But in retrospect, I know that 3 miles is just 3 miles. That walking in the sun for a few hours is simply that. Hard maybe, but absolutely doable.

I know that walking 60 miles is nothing compared to what breast cancer patients are currently going through. The emotional and physical strain that women and men have to go through when diagnosed with breast cancer is something that could never be described. As I was texting Paul during the walk about the pain I was feeling and how tired I was, he texted me back and said, “When you feel the most tired and the most sore just think of what you’re accomplishing and the statement you’re making. Think of Karin.” And that kept me going.

I am so proud of myself and of my fellow Boston walkers for making it through all 3 days together. Even though I went to the 3-Day by myself, I was never really alone. I walked with others and made friends, I talked, learned and shared. The walkers and survivors who participated in this walk, and those who will participate in the other 14 walks from now through November are AMAZING people. If you know someone who is walking, support them! Donate, cheer them on, go on a training walk with them, make them a sign, share their blog posts, leave them supportive comments on their Facebook page. If you can, go to Closing Ceremony and see why they walk. See it in person. It’s an amazing and touching experience that you are not likely to forget. I am so glad my parents made it to Closing this year. They supported me last year in my first walk in DC and supported me in my decision to walk again, but as I hugged them after Closing this year and saw the tears in their eyes, I knew I would have their unwavering support forever.

Thank you to all of my Facebook and Twitter friends who sent encouraging messages throughout the weekend, your words helped push me along and gave me the energy to Keep Going®. I am so lucky to call you all friends, and to have made so many new friends through the Keep Going program and through #the3day!

Congratulations Boston 3-Day for the Cure walkers, survivors and crew! The 1600 walkers I had the honor to walk with raised $4.3 MILLION for Susan G. Komen for the Cure! WE ARE AMAZING! I am so proud of every single one of you!

Check out my photos on Facebook from the weekend! Donations are still accepted for another month, if you’ve enjoyed my blog posts I hope you’ll consider making a donation.

And now on to the next walk! Check out the Keep Going Blogger page and follow the 3-Day for the Cure around the country! Next stop, Cleveland!

Giveaway Winner!

25 Jul

Hi all! I hope you all had fun with this because I’m really excited to have an Energizer Energi-To-Go pack to giveaway because they’re so great. I really love mine and I hope the winner does too!

I also hope you followed along this weekend with my progress as the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure kicked off! It was a long, exhausting and emotional weekend, and it was also completely amazing and wonderful. I met some really amazing people and am already excited for next year! Or at least I will be once my blisters heal! If you haven’t read them yet, I hope you will, and look out for the Day 3 recap coming soon! Here’s Day 1 and Day 2.

And now… for the winner! We had a clear winner for this giveaway and <drum roll please!> the winner is SHANNON SCHULTE! Congratulations Shannon, and thank you!

I’ve been inspired to do more giveaways in the future, so please subscribe and be the first to know when it happens!

Thank you everyone!

*Caitlin

I am the Energizer Bunny®!

24 Jul

Today, I am nominating myself to be the Energizer Bunny®. 21.2 miles today and I started the day with a big blister on each foot, some tenderness in my left foot, and a pulled muscle in my right thigh. At Pit 2  I got my thigh wrapped with an Ace bandage which helped a lot. The med crew told me that I need to pay careful attention to the tenderness in my foot because if I overwork it I could give myself a stress fracture. So I walked alone today, paying close attention to how I was feeling, stopping to stretch whenever I needed to, and taking my shoes off at every Pit. Even with the new pains, today’s walk went MUCH better than yesterday’s did.

Day 2 is usually the hardest of the 3 days because it’s the longest walk and you’re already tired from Day 1. The first 5 miles today were the worst of the 21, and after I worked out my soreness from yesterday I was good to go. I hope you’ve all been enjoying my tweets along the way. I’m still using my Energizer® Energi-To-Go portable charger every time I turn my phone on at a Pit. My phone would be dead at 1pm if I didn’t have it. I highly recommend getting one if you use your phone a lot or travel often, and you can win one here!

We had some REALLY great cheering stations today. I walked through what I think had to have been the longest cheering station I’ve ever seen. It just kept going and going and literally brought me to tears thinking about the number of people that this walk affects. Every time I think about the money that this event raises, and how many people who see us walk that maybe gets involved in some way, I tear up. It’s overwhelming to be thanked over and over for walking and raising money, because the Thank You’s are so sincere, and they’re sincere because it’s personal. The support is amazing.

And tonight, Candy Coburn performed for us! It was SO cool!! She sang a bunch of her songs, and a Janice Joplin song, and of course she sang “Pink Warrior”!! She’s super cool and down to earth and came out into the crowd and had members of the audience finish lyrics of popular classic rock songs. She’s currently in the 3-Day Shop taking pictures with and signing CD’s for walkers. It was AWESOME! Check out the video I took of  “Pink Warrior”!

I’m really excited for tomorrow’s walk; there’s an energy among all of the walkers knowing that the finish line gets closer and closer with every step. If you’re in the Boston area tomorrow and are looking for something to do after the walk, there’s an unofficial post-race party at The Lansdowne Pub from 6-9pm. There will be over $8,800 in raffle prizes, a live performance by B-Suite Band and a special performance by The Boston Babydolls!

I hope that if you’re in the Boston area tomorrow, that you’ll come and cheer us on or check out Closing Ceremony! Here are the cheering stations:

7:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Shaw’s Supermarket
699 Mount Auburn St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

8:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

9:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Boston Public Garden
(between Paul Revere and Swan Boats)
Commonwealth & Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02127

And Closing Ceremony is at the University of Massachusetts in Dorcester. Here we go, Day 3!!