Breast cancer

At a poker tournament tonight, one of my friends gave me a magnet for my car. It has a pink ribbon on it, and says, “Feel your boobies.”

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Years ago I did a three-day, 60-mile walk to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. I walked from Santa Barbara to Malibu, and slept in a tent on the way.

I did it in my Auntie Elsie’s memory, but really it was because I knew a third of the money went toward research, and I want to see this thing cured. I really did it for my daughter.

The walk was at the end of October. I started training in March. I had a schedule, and stuck to it. I was up on Saturdays at 5 in the morning, packing PB&Js, Gatorade and a clip-on tape player into my pockets before stepping out into the nighttime darkness.

I peed in every bush in town.

When I got to the event, I was physically ready.

I was not emotionally ready.

The line of walkers went farther ahead up the road than I could see, and farther behind, too. It was like a moving monument.

Along the curbs of the whole route was a stationery monument. People stood clapping.

It was pouring rain, but they stood for hours. I could see their hands were red and raw, their eyes were puffy and wet. They shouted at us, “Thank you.”

Some shouted, “I’m in chemo. You’re doing this for me.” Some, “You’re doing this for my daughter.” “You’re doing this for my sister.”

Always, “Thank you.”

At the end of the first night I listened to my tentmate cry until I fell asleep. I woke at 3 a.m. when she started talking on her cell phone. She was calling for a ride home. She couldn’t take it.

I had trained with her. I knew she could walk it.

She was a breast cancer survivor.

The second day, I did several interviews. I was writing a first-person account for the paper.

This was a mistake.

By then people had changed out of their 3-Day T-shirts and put on shirts they had had made for the event. There were faces and names on the backs. I wore one myself.

I was already weepy, from the clapping thankers and the sea of shirt faces, and there I was asking people to tell me their stories.

There was variety, but most had the same theme — loss.

This is the one that made me hand in my media badge.

A woman ahead of me had a  portrait of a 20-something mother holding a little boy.

She told me her daughter died shortly after the photo was taken. The lady took in her grandson, who had a terrible time getting through the loss of his mommy.

“Then,” she said…. Silence.

Finally, “Then he got breast cancer and died when he was 13.”

I never submitted anything to my paper. This is the most I’ve ever written about it.

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2 Responses to “Breast cancer”

  1. Julia Says:

    I don’t know if your kids told you anything about the Scott Lang motivational confrence we had at Citrus Valley. It was quite an experience. Scott, the speaker, spoke of how band kids are special. We are the kindest, smartest, and most noble. He told us how convinced he was that a band kid would someday cure cancer. He drew a circle on the board and split it in two. “I am an identical twin,” he said. “and right now half of me is underground in a grave in New York because of cancer.” I was nearly in tears. The room was silent. Nobody knew what to say. But after that confrence the rest of the band kids in that room knew that someday it would be a band kid who would one day cure cancer.

  2. gunky Says:

    oh man. thats powerful.

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