20 September 2011

The Walk of Hope

We walked this weekend.  And walked, and walked and walked some more.  Went to bed  in our sleeping bags stiff and sore, and got up and walked again...until we walked a total of 39.3 miles! We walked because we couldn't not walk.  We walked for those who couldn't walk.  We walked for those who are battling cancer now, those who are survivors.  And we walked in memory of those who have lost the battle.  We walked for the poor...those who can't afford health care and mammograms. And together, we raised $4.6 million.
It was emotional.  And empowering.  Just 4 months ago, I was diagnosed for a second time, with breast cancer.  18 years ago, when I received the first diagnosis, I thought someone had pulled the rug out from under me.  I was 34, a mother of two. This time around, I knew I would make it.  Sure, there's the initial fear, but I am so much stronger now.   Back then, life was so uncertain.  Now, I know that life IS uncertain and things can change from day to day.  Life is fragile.  But we deal with it.  There are no guarantees.  So we walk when we can.  We try to make the difference.  And we try to be the change that we want to see in the world.
This was a milestone year.  Colon cancer, breast cancer, Ani's graduation from nursing school.  We had to walk.  It was a celebration of life.  Of being alive, of being WELL.  Not only physically, but mentally.  We made it through.  All of us.  Together.  Holding each other up.  One day at a time.

The idea of the walk is to take your time.  To learn the stories of those around you.  To take it all in.  Every walker has their style.  Along the walk, you meet all kinds of walkers.  Those that like to cheer.  Those that need to talk every step of the way.  The singers.  Those that follow their group.  There are those that need to be noticed, with outrageous costumes, and crazy wigs.  And there are those that like to walk alone.  Meditative and quiet.  Ani and I are quiet walkers.  We talk a bit, when there's something to talk about.  We point out beauty around us - a pretty door, a beautiful flower, a perfect spider web.  But we are just content to walk side by side in quiet.  I love this.

We were a sea of pink.  Some 1,800 of us.  Mostly women, but men as well.  All walking to make a difference.   To fill a void, to remember a mom or a sister, a wife.  We walked near a man who was walking for his wife....she was a 10 year survivor.  She had walked as much as she could that day and took the shuttle back to the wellness village.  But he kept walking.  For her.  We walked with a woman named Phyllis for a while.  She told me she was walking, "slow and steady...at my own pace."  I didn't want to invade her space, but then she opened up.  "Y'know...in the South, during civil rights times, we would have to walk.  We didn't have cars...we'd walk everywhere.  It makes me remember."  The walking connects us.  We are all walking as one.  A pink sign reads, "None of us are as powerful as ALL of us."  We are powerful.  A sea of pink.

At the Finish Line - 39.3 miles
There are hours that go by.  That first day, we walked for 10 hours.    I prayed while I walked. I was thankful for the day, for being well enough. Thankful for my family, my support system.  Thankful for medical care.  And thankful for those who walked in my shoes before I ever got diagnosed all those years back.  For those that funded the research so that I can walk today.  Yes, it was hard.  After walking all those miles, you start to hurt.  You know you have blisters, but you also know that if you take off your shoes, you'll never get them back on.  So you walk through it.  And pray.   One foot in front of the other.  And you remember.  Like Phyllis, remembering the days of the past.    I remembered my grandparents who were marched through the desert during the genocide and I called on their strength.  I had a choice.  They didn't.  I could stop, but I didn't.  We choose to walk.  Because we can. Because we CAN'T  not walk.  It's the walk of Hope.

1 comment:

Fr. Vazken Movsesian said...

Thanks Anush for the reflection and for walking. Your words bring it all together, especially, "if you take off your shoes, you'll never get them back on." How true. Thanks for being you. Congratulations on a successful journey.