Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another diagnosis

So without going into too much detail, my biological aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has already gone in to take care of it and hopefully the reports will come back with no metastasis.

I found out in the freezer section of the grocery store. Sometimes email at your fingers tips isn't a great idea.

I leaned on a freezer for support... I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I was completely stunned.

I had my son with me so I was jolted back to reality. He's 2 and demands to be heard.

I forwarded the email to my husband and tried to go on with my list.

I walked about 10 feet before it sunk in.

Family history.

One thing the doctors always focus on is family history of breast cancer and now I have more of it. Not just a mom but an aunt too.

I think this was the first time I felt like breast cancer might be a reality.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Husband

First and foremost: he kept the boy safe, fed, bathed and entertained all weekend long! A 3 day weekend at that!

He kept up with the dishes.

He hung the new shower curtain.

He kept the living room clean (I did NOT walk into a house with toys littered everywhere... oh happy day!)

He changed the sheets on our bed.

He started the laundry.

Took the recycling to the dumpster (yes we live that far out in the country... they don't pick it up for us). And that task is generally monumental... we put it off until literally no more recycling will fit in the Jeep.

He had flowers and a balloon waiting for me when I got home.

In reality this is what I do everyday (well not every day but at least weekly) but this is my chosen career. I chose to be a stay at home mommy/wife so these are all in my job description.

Adam's chosen career is law. He did not choose to be a stay at home dad (and even if money were no object, I doubt he would ;~). So for him to step into my career and do it well and with my thoughts and feelings in mind... well it just reminds me how lucky I am to have him.

Lord knows I wouldn't want to spend a weekend in the law office!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 3

I have to say Day 3 wasn't that bad. I was definitely tired but the mileage didn't seem insurmountable.

The hardest part were the last few miles through downtown DC. I think they pulled a couple more '3day miles' on us.

But we did it... we walked into the waiting lawn of the finish line. And promptly collapsed.

Yes, we are hardcore... we just walked 60 miles!

After everyone was present and accounted for, we made our way to closing ceremonies. All of the people walking that don't or didn't have breast cancer walked first. Then the survivors walked into (wearing pink) together. It's really quite a powerful thing... and I think it hit me harder than I expected. Last time I did this my mom walked in with them. Unfortunately she didn't win her battle but these women and the 1 in 8 that will be diagnosised are the reason we keep walking and fighting.

As the survivors walk in, the rest of the walkers raise a shoe in honor of them. It's a great tradition that I hope always continues... I think it's a very visual reminder that they are why we have the shoes on in the first place. The best thing about this part of the ceremony was I remember doing this with my dad when mom walked in... very cool memory.

BTW, that's my shoe on the right!

Like I have mentioned before, I have some wonderful in-laws... I mean seriously blessed with these people. They (along with hubby and above picture son) came out to support me at closing ceremonies. It felt really great to walk into a family that missed me and was proud of me.

I love this picture.

My awesome supportive husband and the best son in the world. The husband will get his own post soon...

Team "I Walk For Her"... aka "Hooray for Boobies"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My List...

of must haves for the 3Day walk.

As my friend Jen pointed out, the first thing is duct tape to securely fasten your camera tether to your wrist. Amen.

Secondly... a proper sized tarp. Now this is coming from a DC walker so it may vary by region (Jen, I am looking at you). We had a tarp that came up a little short... a couple feet and where it didn't cover, the tent was damp. Not a big deal but something I would do differently.

A change of socks for mid day. I didn't do this last time but thought 'what the heck, I'll try and see if makes a difference'. Boy did it! If only to refresh your feet from the 12 miles of stink you put on your socks before lunch!

Handmade t-shirts. Again, I didn't do this the first time around and I really wish I had. I wish I had worn t-shirts in HONOR of my mom before I had to wear them in MEMORY. Hindsight is 20/20. I made t-shirts this time around and had lots of fun. I felt great putting my moms picture out there for everyone to see... it makes the journey so much more personal for you and everyone walking with you. A face to cancer goes a long way. I also had fun making other shirts as well... I will do a post on those shortly.

Glow sticks... my tent mate brought the necklace glow sticks with connectors which made perfect zipper tags. Not only could we spot the tent down the row of pink tents, we could easily spot the zipper! No fumbling for us!

Headlamp... the ones you strap on your forehead. Dumbest looking things but OH SO HELPFUL when you are in a pitch black port a john trying to simultaneously squat, aim and keep your pants off the floor all with a flashlight in hand.

Bag to carry down to the showers and sinks. Not only the toiletry bag but one to put clean/dirty clothes in... it makes for less fumbling. Plus if you decide to go straight to dinner (or straight from dinner to showers) it's much easier!

Battery pack for my iPhone... sue me, I am addicted. I was so concerned about running out of juice that I conserved like a champ... but that meant not a lot of surfing time.

And if I do this again (which let's face it, I probably will), I will be bringing an air mattress. There is no way I am attempting a sleeping bag on a yoga mat again.

Towel service... never has $12 been more worth it. Trust me.

Mylar blankets... again, this is coming from a DC walker so take it with a grain of salt. You wouldn't think that balloon material could keep you so warm but it really does! They are cheap so throw in a few!

So that's all I have so far. If I think of anything else, I will be sure to add it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

No camera = no sleep

I have a hard time putting into words why pictures mean so much to me. For most of my life it was just my mom and I... which means she knew all the stories and memories about me. When she died, I felt like I lost my history. I felt like I just materialized out of thin air. Pictures to me are a way to combat that. They are a tangible piece of my history... and more than that, my sons history. They record moments that I may (and probably will) forget about. They bring up the emotion (happy, sad or angry) that I may have forgotten. To this day I wish I had someone take pictures and video at my moms funeral. I can't remember who was there or what was said.

Pictures are everything to me.

In a fire, the pecking order goes 1. {husband, child, dog}, 2. hard drives. We just invested in a hard drive to serve as second back up which will be housed in our fire proof box. I have even toyed with backing up again and leaving that at the in-laws.

Obsessive... yes, I am aware.

All that to say that the loss of my camera kept me up most of Saturday night. Thoughts about the specific pictures I had taken. Self portraits of Laura and I... each of us in front of the Washington Monument... awesome handmade shirts people had made for the walk... the crew members and motor crew... and on and on.

Everytime I thought of another specific picture, I cried. Which stuffed me up... which with laying on my side with no elevation made it even harder to breathe.

So I would will myself to stop and forget it.

Then my mind would drift back.... and the cycle starts over.

Somewhere in there I remembered the pictures I had taken on Thursday. My son and his friend at the park playing in the leaves... and the videos of them running and jumping in the piles... and the laughter.

Yeah, I lost it.

Finally after all the tossing and turning, crying and sniffling one person can do, I fell asleep. I estimate another 4 hours of highly interrupted sleep.

My bed never looked so good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 2... aka 'introduction of the 3day mile vs an actual mile'

Day 2 started off well enough... even with the lack of good sleep. Breakfast was good and I was set for a long day of walking.

The first few miles were through neighborhoods that I thought only existed in TV shows and movies. Gorgeously stunning houses with stone fronts, Land Rovers in the driveway and perfectly manicured lawns. So basically the first few miles were spent walking wide eyed and drooling while trying not to trip and look like a complete idiot.

Then mile 6 hit.

I am not sure what it was about mile 6 but I'll be perfectly honest with you... I didn't think we would make it. Well, I at least thought I wouldn't make it.

I absolutely, without a doubt, thought I would be taking the sweeper van by lunch. Not that there is anything wrong with taking the sweeper van... I just so desperately wanted to walk all 60 miles.

But somewhere between miles 6 - 12 I thought I would have to give up that dream.

I believe this is where we were introduced to the '3day mile'. Up until this point if the signs said 1 mile to pit stop/lunch/grab and go, I believed them... I trusted them. But miles 6 through 12 ruined for all the rest. I can't be sure but I could swear that one of the '3day miles' was actually 2.6 miles... uphill.

Then we came to the stop before the lunch break. For some reason that stop energized us and we picked up some steam. Before we knew it... lunch!

Lunch was uneventful until a half a mile after we started walking again... when I discovered I didn't have my camera on me. Almost instantly I knew what happened.

We made a pit stop at the port a johns on the way out and usually I leave all my belongings in a pile right outside (as does everyone). When I got in I realized I still had my camera in my very loose pocket. If I left it, I risked losing the camera to the great port a john abyss... no way I would be going after that. Or I could open the door, toss it out and grab it when I was done. Or I could hang it on the hook of the port a john and think to myself, even if I don't remember it, I'll hear it clunk on the door on my way out.

Any guesses?

You got it. Dummy me left it on the hook and there was no clunk that reminded me to grab it. So there I left it.

I hightailed it back to lunch hoping that it was still in the same spot... or at the very least an honest 3dayer picked it up and turned it in.

No luck at the port a johns... and I checked all that were around the one I was in, just to be sure. At this point I am frantic. My camera and my pictures mean the world to me. I ask someone through held back tears if they had anyone turn in a camera. No luck.

They did reassure me that more than likely some crew member had it in their pocket and that they would turn it in at base camp. After asking many more people and fretting about my camera, I turned to leave.

I still had a lot more ground to cover and I just cost myself some extremely valuable time. So I left. Completely and utterly defeated... and pretty sure I had seen the last of my camera.

Laura and I finally made it into camp... around 5:30 or 6. Not too bad for 21.5 miles!

We snapped this picture with the iphone and then I went straight to lost and found.

They did have a camera but it wasn't mine. I cried. I willed myself not to but my tears overrode the willpower. The people in the command center (where all valuable lost and found item go) were so nice and they reassured me that someone would turn it in.

I left and called my husband. I bawled on the phone to him... and he got just as upset as I was (without the tears though). I love him for that. I just needed someone to commiserate with me.

I got off the phone and cried some more. Some nice crew member sat down and when I explained to him that I lost the camera, he said someone was sure to turn it in. I just muttered 'if life where that rosey then we wouldn't have to do this walk'... *sigh* I suck. To that guy, I am really sorry that my cynicism won out. You were very nice and I should have just accepted that.

I checked in with command center several more times that night... and once there was even another canon... but it wasn't mine.

Completely heartbroken and defeated, I went to bed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Impersonation

of the Breast Cancer Ribbon...

Not too shabby...