Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tomorrow We Walk

Tomorrow morning, I will be doing something I have done ten times before, but it will also be something I have never done before. Tomorrow, I will head out the door to opening ceremonies for the 3Day Walk for the Cure (aka the 3day walk for breast cancer) Tomorrow I will start the 60-mile journey that is the 3Day. I have walked this 60-mile path ten times before in 5 different cities, including this one. I’ve also crewed 7 times. Later this year I will walk another 3Day and crew another as well. Coming to a 3ay Walk feels like coming home to me. It is comforting and familiar. And yet, here on the eve of this particular 3Day walk, I am filled with uncertainty.

Why the disquiet? This year will be a very different walk for me. This year, my daughter, aka @60miledaughter, is joining me on the walk. Her cousin, @bros4boobies, is along as well. My husband, Matt, who generally walks or crews alongside me, will be crewing, as will my stepson. All this family stuff should be exciting. I am thrilled and honored and proud of each of the young people for making this commitment and for joining us on this adventure. So, again, why do I feel such trepidation about this year’s walk?

I was so excited when my daughter decided to do this with us. She was only seven years old the first time I walked the 3Day. This event has been part of her life growing up. I was so touched that it had come to mean enough to her from the sidelines that she wanted to jump in.

The past year of training together and fundraising has been a rollercoaster I hadn’t expected. Back when she first registered to walk, I saw the future of our walk together as this amazing mother-daughter journey. I imagined the conversations we would share during training. I imagined the tears and the laughter that would pass between us as we prepared for our shared journey. I didn’t actually imagine the arguments we would end up having. I didn’t imagine the miles of training walks when she would wonder aloud how her stepfather and I could possibly stand all this walking. I didn’t imagine how anxious she would become about whether she could do this.

I didn’t imagine any of that because I believe my daughter is an amazing person. She has a heart of gold and is always reaching out to others. She’s one of those people who remains popular among different groups of people, instead of being connected to just one clique. Yes, she can be anxious, but she can also be stubborn and determined. I simply know in my heart that she will do her very best at this thing.

I feel anxious about our walk together over the next three days. I worry, not about whether we will finish, but whether we will still be talking to one another when we do! I worry that our relationship might not be strong enough for this. But then I realize with a big burst that nobody ever knows how strong they are themselves or how strong the bonds in their lives are until they are tested. And this is a test that will have many moments of fun and laughter. Over the next 3 days, we will get to share a lot of great moments. And the tough ones will really not be all that tough.

I walk in memory of my dear friend, Mary Kaye. I also walk in support of a number of survivors who have come into my life. One of the survivors I walk for is my special friend, Diane. Diane is a 2-time breast cancer survivor. I didn’t know her the first time she was diagnosed. But, we were very close when the cancer returned. She bowed to a mastectomy and accepted the treatment to fight hard against this invader. She inspires me with her laughter and her strength.

Five weeks ago, her 32-year old daughter, K, was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. K’s caution and preventative behavior because of her mother’s cancer probably will save her life. Two weeks ago, K had a procedure to remove a lump from her breast. This week, she had a second procedure because the margins weren’t all clean the first time. Diane has held her own breath and her daughter’s hand at the same time. Diane already knows every step of this journey that her daughter is just starting. This will be something they will share forever. I am heartbroken that Diane has to live through the fear of her child’s cancer. We are all grateful that it was caught early.

As my daughter and I venture off on our 3Day walk together, wondering whether we will make it through and anxious about how it might change our relationship, I simply need to stop what I am doing and reflect on the journey that Diane and her daughter are sharing. Their strength inspires me. If they can face this battle together as boldly as they are, surely my babygirl and I can walk a few miles without caring whether we argue and without it mattering at all if we are bored with one another. Coming to the 3Day will always be coming home. I’m just learning to come home to a different doorway.