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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.

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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!

Shout-Out to Energizer

12 Jul

The big thanks to Energizer is of course for choosing me as a Keep Going blogger! I’ve gotten to meet so many awesome people as the Keep Going® bloggers connect on Twitter and Facebook and support each others training and blogging. I’m having a great time sharing my stories with everyone, and having people actually read them. 🙂

The other thanks is for the cool Energizer stuff they’ve sent me! I LOVE the Energizer Bunny® I got, we’re twins in our matching sunglasses! I also have enough batteries to last for a few years, an awesome Keep Going® journal, water bottle, pedometer, bag and a 3-Day for the Cure board game!! One of my absolute favorite things that I got was an Energizer power pack that will give my cell phone or laptop a boost when I need it! It’s super small and gives my Blackberry extra hours of power when it dies. I love my Blackberry but the battery dies so quickly! It never would have lasted throughout the 3-Day for the Cure® so I’m really happy and excited to have this little power pack to help me get through the weekend. I would totally recommend getting one for yourself if you have a smart phone. (Full disclosure: Energizer sent me the product but the review is completely mine.)

I hope you’ll all come visit me in the Energizer tent at camp, I’ll be there on Friday and Saturday nights after the walk ends. See you in Boston!

Impact Connecticut!

19 May

Sometimes I forget that Susan G. Komen for the Cure started with one woman. That fact is always in my head, somewhere, but sometimes when I’m watching commercials for Komen or hearing something on the radio, I forget. And then I get in a room with the Komen Connecticut staff, and like tonight, in a room with the Team Captains for the 2010 Race for the Cure and I remember that Susan G. Komen for the Cure was started by one woman. With all of them women (and men) in the room it reminds you that it started with just one. But it’s when that one woman connects with another, and those two connect with others that it starts to grow and that a one-woman organization can grow to become the largest grassroots organization in the country. Komen for the Cure is now a GLOBAL organization.

We have about 30 of our Team Captains in the room tonight and they represent the 273 teams we currently have signed up for this year’s Race for the Cure. Judy Caturano, the Team Captain Chair shared with us that those 273 have raised over $117,000 of the current $177,000 raised so far for this year’s race. How amazing is that?! One person can start a team, and that team can go on to raise $10,000 or more. We’re just one little state and yet for this cause we can come together and raise money to support their fellow CT residents. 75% of all money raised at the Race for the Cure will STAY IN CONNECTICUT and help CT residents pay for mammograms, treatment and support. The other 25% will go to research to find the cure for breast cancer.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who is participating in this year’s Race for the Cure! If you’ve never been, it’s an absolutely amazing day in Bushnell Park in Hartford and the energy is unbelievable. People are excited to be there; honoring someone or remembering someone. People are happy, and sad. Laughing and crying. It’s really amazing. If you’d like to register, go to the Komen Connecticut website! And if you’d like to join a team, feel free to join mine! I’ll be walking around all day Facebooking and Tweeting  for KomenCT and running the 5k race! Join my team, Nutmeggers for Komen!

A story from tonight’s Team Captains Reception: One of the walkers, Patty Fox of TEAM PATTY was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38. THIRTY. EIGHT. With the new “guidelines” out there that say screening should start at age 50, I say NO WAY. Susan G. Komen for the Cure says you should get your baseline mammogram at age 35 and start getting yearly at age 40. Anyway, so Patty went to her doctor and was diagnosed with melanoma on her arm. At some point she or they found a lump in her breast and she went for a mammogram. Because she’s young, her mammogram came up clean. Her doctor told her she shouldn’t worry because of her age and that it was most likely benign. But they went ahead and got the ultrasound and there they found something. Still, her doctor said she was most likely fine, it would be benign. When she went further, she found she had Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. She went through aggressive chemo and radiation and is currently is post-treatment. She still doesn’t call herself a survivor, not yet.

Stories like hers, when you see breast cancer affecting a real person with a family and a life, and it makes you want to get involved. Get involved! Impact your community!

Susan G. Komen for the Cure as a Brand

10 May

If you’re like me, you’re more apt to buy a product if a portion of the proceeds benefits Komen. I know that if I’m looking for tissues, and I see the Komen logo on the box, I’m going to buy that box of Tissues. It doesn’t matter what brand it is or if they’re not the softest, I’m buying them. I laughed at myself the other day as I was in the store in the toilet paper aisle and I was looking for the brand I always buy, but was sidetracked when I saw Komen. I immediately dropped any idea that I would buy any other brand and picked up the one that benefits Komen. Now, I know this about myself, but I hadn’t really admitted to myself that I do this. So I had to laugh as grabbed the toilet paper of the shelf, feeling good about myself for buying it for Komen. If Komen started producing their own products rather than working with existing products, you know my house would be filled with Komen everything.

Does this happen to anyone else? I mean, I’ve bought flashlights, hair ties, pens, pencils, notebooks, paper, binders, Sharpies… all because of Komen. I’m not the only one, right?