Saturday, November 01, 2008

Day Three

Day three started off early, but not at 4am. It seemed like a lazy start because I got to sleep until 5.

Eric droped me at the camp. I went and got my lunch and driver's lunch and hiked back up the hill to catch my bus. I turned out that all the bus liaison people met. There were perhaps 40 or 50 buses lined up because ALL the people in camp would be picked up after breakfast and taken to a start point that would allow them to end up at the World Congress Center later in the day with the appropriate milage. How could we tell our 7 buses from the 30 or 40 lined up? We cheered walkers while we waited. Helped get folks lined up and on the buses as efficiently as possible and I made a special effort to thank all the men who walked, "Thank you sir, for embracing the pink!" I used my pink flowers like the septer they had become and made a swirling motion and bowed deeply to the men who were gracious enough to walk and be emersed in a sea of pink. It takes CAHONES to be able to handle that!

Finally my bus came along, and guess who's driving it? Yup, Mr. Clueless from day 1. We were dispatched to several places and bused people to several locations. Lunch on Day 3 was at Piedmont Park. The weather was lovely, and the sun was shining bright. It was beautiful and enjoyable. I had on my comfy shoes and was a happy girl. We had an awkward parking spot at the park and I wasn't letting people board the bus becuase we were only supposed to be there something like 15 minutes. I wasn't letting people on the bus until we got orders where to go since it was kind of dangerous slipery and we didn't know where we'd be going. Some self-appointed supervisor got all mad about me not letting people on the bus without scoping things out. She was very unpleasant with me. I got to meet my mail lady at this stop about this time. I was able to give my mail lady, Shirley, a card I'd made for her and was carrying around. I never found the post office, so I was graced with handling it to her in person. She knocked on my door a year ago, and gave me the credentials she'd used to walk one day of the walk last year. She was recovering from having broken her back earlier in the year so it was pretty impressive that she walked any of the walk in a full torso cast. Her walk in my honor last year was so very touching. It was like a circular bit of good that the following year Jenn and I were able to contribute to the event.

Bus man and I were dispatched, but not after I took the self-appointed supervisor who'd been truly ugly to me.....a gift. I took her one of the necklasses I'd made and pressed it into her hand. I told her I'd made it for her. That the work she was doing now was important to helping me live longer and to potentially having a cure for my kind of cancer. I hoped she had a better day. She fell all over herself apologizing for being such a b*tch, Claimed she didn't mean to be so assertive / aggressive. But I dropped it. Others had told me that she'd bene difficult with them too. Her problem, not mine. I sure wouldn't want to work with her!

Only person on the whole walk that I felt was unpleasant. One out of over 4,000 isn't too bad.

We picked up a couple people at pit stop 4, and then proceeded to the World Congress Center about 4pm. I had to drop the bus at the Marshaling Yard, make my way on foot to the WCC and then go to a 4:30 meeting. I was late. I got to the meeting, found a backpack that Jenn had lost track of on her travels, and I claimed my finishline tee-shirt. They had a very nice closing ceremony. What I remember from it the most is that it was long and I had to stand for a long time. I had my bus materials over my shoulder and between holding my jacket, Jenn's backpack, my closing tee-shirt, and so forth, I was too hot, too tired, and too everything. The closing ceremony was emotional. I stood with the survivors. I wanted to see a sea of thousands, but there were maybe 400 or so. I wanted to see lots of folks who'd survived cancer and won....but it wasn't to be. They paraded us through the walkers who took off their shoes in homage to our hard work. When that happened, I just totally lost it and cried and cried. I was hot, tired, and emotional and I had been standing for way too long. A staff member saw me crying and realized I was in distress, not just emotional. He very graciously got a chair for me. I don't know where frm, but he did. And I gratefully sat on it. After the ceremony, I followed the teaming hoards out to the elevators up to street level, and caught my transfer bus back to my original hotel. Somehow I managed to get home.

The walk was so many things for me. So many things that were good, that were affirming, that were positive, that helped me see beyond myself and my own wounds. The one-legged man who helped me on the first night, helped me see that while wounded, I surely didn't have to walk on my lack of breasts. The struggle two out of three days to find my way using maps and a broken sense of direction, yet always getting to my destination was a nice metephore for so much in my life. Facing the fear of a woman with caustic ways and words, helped me to get past other fears. And yes, even getting to the closing ceremoneis and nearling (but not) falling over from exhaustion, was a great metaphore for endurance.

Will I do this again? I don't know today. Maybe another day. It is a week now since this all happened, and I'm resting and coming back from exhaustion. I found out last night that over $8 MILLION dollars was raised as a result of our efforts last weekend. It's a staggering sum, but something small in the research world. Maybe though, it will buy enough naked mice and enough lab coats (for the researchers, not the mice) and enough chemicals and test tubes and fancy machines, that if not me, maybe the next generation of triple negative women will get to live longer. The walk is the outward expression of my HOPE for the future.

Thousands of walkers parading in front of the walker/crew survivors. Each row is 10-a-breast. It was like some kind of military parade past the old soldiers of previous wars. To get the pink shirts, you had to defy death. The pink shirts were our ribbons on the uniform of our war.


Calypso said...

wow, that's all i can say right now, what a story.
you are amazing, girl

Susan said...

Yes, ditto to the WOW. All of you are amazing to have done this awesome feat. I see your humor is still shining through: "Each row is 10-a-breast."

Way to go girl!