Even though there is still more snow on the ground than us native New Englanders have come to expect, I am sure that if you look out your window you will agree with me that it is finally beginning to melt. With the promise of spring, comes numerous 3-Day activities. Over the last month or so I have been volunteering at 3-Day Get Started Meetings--a LOT of them. To quote my dear friend Sharyn, "I am a 3-Day addict." These Get Started Meetings are such an important part of your journey as a 3-Day participant. There are always a bunch of volunteers ready to offer support and encouragement. Meredith or Mara, the two Boston Field Coordinators, run the meetings explaining just what this 60 miles is all about.
Arriving at these meetings, it is wonderful to see old friends, or those I have affectionately come to know as my "3-Day family." Just as exciting is meeting the "newbies" who have no idea what to expect. It is such an inspiring feeling to be surrounded by people who all share the same motivation and desire. I think about the times in my life when I have been in groups like this. Of course, there were those clubs I was in when I was in school, and those who shared the same major as me in college, and even my PTA friends, but this is different. Maybe because we are talking life and death. Everyone who is there is there for a specific reason. We all have a story. It seems that when you get a group of people together to talk about the 3-Day there is an electricity that reverberates through the room.
During some of the meetings, we have been watching our video "Walk Like a Princess." Mind you, I have seen this video a million times. My daughter Mia even says it is her favorite movie ever! (Probably because she is in it, and her sister was too scared to be!) But watching it in a room full of people who are about to embark on one of the most life changing experiences, adds a whole new level to it. The first time I saw it in a group like this, I saw the tissues being passed around, and heard muffled sniffles. I couldn't help but join in. I hadn't cried watching it since the first month it was posted. I think about when I say, "We have made a difference," and we have. I looked around at the women in the room, and they were inspired. My hope is for that chain reaction--for those women to inspire others too with their commitment to finding a cure.
While in a meeting one night, a 3-Day participant, Kathleen, said that she recognized me and Patty from our video. As the meeting finished I approached her and asked her how she had seen it. She explained that she had followed a New Balance link. She had decided to complete the 3-Day because her sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She said that her sister was having a very difficult time coping with this diagnosis when she happened to stumble upon our video. During a visit with her sister in Pennsylvania, they viewed it together. Kathleen told me that when I say, "cancer is not who I am," I truly made a difference in her sister's life. It made her sister realize that cancer does not define her and has since changed her outlook on things. Immediately the tears started. To think that my words could have that affect on someone. How humbling. Another reason to continue this fight.
Just last night, Patty, Cheryl, and I were attending yet another GSM. There were so many volunteers there, including Wayne from the "Pink Angel Posse," (he dresses up as a pink angel to cheer the walkers on) and Jeff, who is a one man team, "Baghdad Breast Defense." Jeff is a Sergeant First Class in the Army and has been overseas many times, most recently returning from Kuwait. He told us how he became involved in the 3-Day. His sister had breast cancer, and upon celebrating her 5 year "cancerversary" they agreed to walk the 3-Day together. Well, Jeff registered, and kept waiting for his sister to do the same. Then came the conversation with his mother saying that his sister Kim's cancer had metastasized to her bones and brain--she would not be able to walk with him. While overseas, Jeff began to train. Fortunately for him, Jeff was able to come home on leave and walked his first 3-Day. While at closing ceremonies, he scanned the crowd for Kim, but to his disappointment she was too sick to come. Kim died in December of that year. He continues to walk each year, now with his sister Jen by his side. To see him speak of his story with such passion shows what a true hero he is.
In addition to all of these outstanding volunteers that were at the meeting, we were also blessed with Maurine, TWP Extraordinaire, who arrived with her two sons. Every time someone who does not know us watches our video, their first question is, "How is Maurine?" To have her there as a survivor last evening made quite the impact. If you don't know Maurine, she truly is one of a kind. She is full of wit, sarcasm, bravery, love, and more hope than one could imagine. During the walk she insisted on doing everything for herself in the midst of going through treatment. Last night was the first night I ever caught a glimmer of her fear. At the end of the meeting she stood up and asked Meredith if she could speak. She looked at the crowd of potential walkers and implored them to not wait--to sign up today. She continued saying she was the research and that she did not want to leave us five minutes before the cure was found. She referenced her two boys, sitting off to the side, saying she wanted to see them graduate from school and have their own children. Believe me when I say there was not a dry eye in the place. All I could think of was her boys and how brave they are as well, to stand there and listen to their mom say she might not make it. As scary as it is for me to think about losing a friend, I can't even fathom how Maurine's family feels. I don't see how anyone could have walked out of that room without signing up for the walk.
Today Patty and I are heading to the Haverhill Rotary meeting to discuss our experiences with cancer and the 3-Day. We again will be showing our video with hopes to inspire those present to make a difference. I believe we have made it pretty clear that one person can. I ask you to please think about how you can too.