Thursday, August 2, 2012

This one's for Emma--Day 1

Another year, another 3-Day.  Different than each year before, but as exciting as ever.  There were new Princesses and new experiences.  There was even some improvement in the weather; however, it wouldn't be the Boston 3-Day without thunder, lightning, and pouring rain.  From Opening to Closing with friends and family it will be a weekend that will always be remembered.

Okay, so I am actually starting a bit before Day 1.  All day on Thursday I anxiously awaited the arrival of Keri and her friend Allison, the New York Princesses. I have known Keri for over 15 years.  Her husband Wayne was Andy's college roommate.  They used to play baseball together; actually, Wayne was Andy's catcher when he pitched.  Unfortunately, because of the distance, we don't get to see each other often, so I was very excited to be spending these 3 days with her.  Meeting her friend Allison was just an added bonus.  I first heard of her when Keri called me shortly after Allison was diagnosed with breast cancer.  At the time she was only 33--so young.  Years later, Allison was ready to take on her second journey of a lifetime.

Around 5PM, their minivan pulled up.  I could tell right away that Allison was not feeling well.  She had a fever, chills, and a sore throat.  Uh oh, this could prove to be a challenging few days.  After a pasta dinner, it was time for bed.  After all, we needed to be at Cheryl's at 3:45AM!  Yikes!
Some of our most faithful fans at 4AM!
After picking up Nicole K., Sandy, and Allison S., the 6 of us were headed to Cheryl's to meet the bus.  As soon as we arrived, I was taken aback by our 4AM cheering station.  Patty's dad, George, and his girlfriend, Tucky, were there of course--they are our biggest fans.  In addition to them we had Julie, Danielle, and Sue, all Princesses who were not going to be joining us on the 3-Day this year.  How awesome is that?  The best part was that Danielle brought a candle for Emma, and it sat there as we loaded up the bus.  As we pulled away, Danielle picked it up and held it high.  This was definitely going to be an emotional 3-Day. 

Shortly after we started out, we stopped to get food and coffee. Some of us chatted, and some of us tried to get some more sleep.  Before we knew it, we were almost there.  Right before we reached Framingham, Vicky got a message from Tina saying that she was at Opening Ceremonies.  She was determined to carry that flag.   

 Arriving at Opening was typical of any other year.  There were a few sprinkles and we were excited to see friends we had been missing since last year.  Our first task was to find Tina.  Barbara had blown up and laminated a picture of Tina kissing Emma that we could all wear around our necks so that Tina would be with us the entire walk.  Up until that morning, we were unsure if Tina would be joining us at all.  Well, seeing Tina was indescribable.  After all, she is why we were there.  Emma was why we were there.  Finding a cure for breast cancer will lead to a cure for all cancers.

The TWP surrounding Emma's ICU nurses, the most special ladies around!
When we saw Tina, she was surrounded by three of the cutest young women dressed in hot pink shirts stating, "Kiss my Sass!"   These young women were Emma's ICU nurses from MGH.  Seriously!  They drove her in from the hospital because they knew it was important for Tina to be there.  They knew she would need them as the team walked away.  They knew what it meant to be a good nurse.  How amazing are they?  I overheard one of them talking to a Princess wondering if they had overstepped their boundaries by doing such a thing.  To me, it is completely the opposite.  How do you not assist someone like Tina in her time of need?  These girls are the symbol of all that is good in the world, and I thank them for that. 

Well, we hadn't even started Opening Ceremonies and there was not a dry eye among the TWP.  We knew where Tina would be standing with the flag, so we gathered there awaiting her arrival.  Words cannot describe the feelings we all had as she walked down that stage.  Her face was so full of hope and love.  She was the embodiment of grace and dignity combined with a courage that I could never muster.  I would have just collapsed right there, a blubbering mess.  But Tina didn't.  That is not Tina.  She held her head high and walked to honor her Emma, right into the arms of the TWP. 

Sharyn honoring Bridget
Some of Team TuTas
I remember looking across the way and seeing two of my friends also bearing flags.  Sharyn was carrying the "my friend" flag in honor of our friend Bridget, who many of you have read about.  It was so great to have her right across from Tina.  Next to Sharyn was my friend Amanda who carried the "my mother-in-law" flag in honor of her MIL, Kathey, who was in the Survivor Circle.  Amanda and Kathey are members of  "Team TuTas", a young growing team that so reminds me of TWP.  Be sure to like their page on facebook!

The rest of the ceremony was a complete blur.  Every one of us had the "ugly cry" working.  It was just a sobbing mess.  I have never felt what I felt that morning. Leaving Tina behind as we walked off was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  It sounds crazy, but it felt like leaving a soldier behind.  We were the last ones to leave Opening--honestly, there was no one behind us.  It didn't matter though, we just needed that time together.

The first 10 miles or so were typical of years past--pretty slow and uneventful.  It is difficult to walk at a quick pace when there are so many people in front of you.   We spotted some of our fans along the route and were thrilled to see Helen (the elementary school secretary) and her daughter, Lisa, both Michigan 3-Day walkers, on the side of the road in Wellesley cheering us on. This year we had a large group walking together for most of the day.  I think it was 15 of us.  There was one pit stop that was at a park in Wellesley.  They had the most amazing playground equipment with two giant slides.  Alexa, Patty's 16 year old daughter, thought it would be fun to go down the slide.  I did too; however I could only imagine my sweaty body sticking to the slide, so I opted to take the video.  My favorite part is listening to the girls voices in the background.  It was one of the highlights of the day. 

Cheryl, Patty, Ben, me, and Maurine at lunch
As I walked into lunch, a few paces in front of some of the group, I heard several of my teammates hollering to come back.  I was fearful that something happened.  You never yell to someone to turn around and come back.  That is more miles added onto the 60!  Well, this was definitely worth it.  When I turned around, there was Ben.  Ben was one of the producers of our video, Walk Like A Princess.  He hopped on his bike in hopes of finding us, and within two minutes was riding beside Patty.  It was great to catch up with him for a few.  Being a part of that video was one of the most memorable moments of my life.  Every July that comes around I can't help but think of Nadesha, Rachel, CJ, Doug, Steph, Matthew, Paul, and of course Ben.  That 3-Day will be like no other. 

After lunch we continued together for the next several miles through Newton and into Waltham.  The sky began to darken, and we knew it wouldn't be a Boston 3-Day without the rain.  Just as it started to sprinkle, I received a text from Connie, saying that our tent was set up!  Awesome!  Up ahead there was a Dunkin' Donuts and several members from our team stopped.  There were about 3 miles left, and I was on autopilot as so many of are when we reach that close to camp.  I trudged on ahead, by myself, hoping to catch up to Keri and Allison.  These two girls were amazing.  They kept up such a quick pace all while Allison was sick.  I eventually caught up to them, but Allison too, was on autopilot and pushed on ahead.  Keri and I chatted and walked up the long hill by Bentley University, knowing that Gann Academy, our camp, was right around the corner.  As we turned into camp, the rain stopped.  Somebody was looking out for us.

We quickly showered and headed over to the dining tent where we spent most of the night.  We watched the entertainment until it was time to turn in.  I was exhausted.  Day 1 was done, and I was happy.  Walking back over to tent city, I was once again overwhelmed with emotion.  There were tons of candles lit in honor of Tina and Emma.  I wish I had pictures of  them all, but it was too dark to get any good ones.  There was one that stood out in my mind.  It was small tea-lights that spelled out "EMMA."  It was breathtaking. 

As I lay in bed that night, I was having difficulty falling asleep.  It was almost 11PM, I was exhausted, and I could not fall asleep.  My heart was racing.  I often have heart palpatations that I take meds for, but these were more frequent than usual.  My stomach began to bother me.  I knew I drank enough because I was using the bathroom frequently, but my mouth felt like cotton.  I felt dehydrated.  I kept drinking more Nuun (the new sponsor of the 3-Day instead of Gatorade) but it didn't seem to help.  Should I go to medical?  No, I can take care of this myself.  45 minutes later I was still no better.  Maybe I should go to medical?  No, I am still okay.  Another 30 minutes and still no improvement.  Yes, I should go to medical.


  1. oh i love reading about your first day, knowing i had many similar experiences and yet could never imagine your feelings as a survivor, much less leaving a team member behind. i love the tea lights for emma, so precious.


  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?