Susan G. Komen - A Change in My Perspective (Part One)

Sorry for the long post.... No way I could edit this down.  

I will never be able to put into writing the overwhelming emotion I feel after having completed the Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure.  The roller coaster of emotions I felt during this walk were the most intense I have ever encountered.  Excitement, trepidation, disappointment, fear, depression, exuberance, and accomplishment; all felt during these three days and 60 miles.

Minutes before we started walkingEntering the Del Mar Fair Grounds, I was so nervous.  I saw women of all ages and sizes.  Some were first time walkers like me.  Others had walked 6 or 7 times before.  Some were walking in honor of friends and family who had overcome breast cancer.  Others walked in honor of loved ones whose lives had been taken.  Today, for me, it was just me and my mom, walking for friends whose lives had been affected by this ugly disease.

 

Officers in tutusMy nervousness turned to excitement as we began our journey from Del Mar to Crown Point.  We were introduced to the comedic acts of the San Diego and San Jose police officers, whose jobs were not only to keep up safe as we crossed the street, but to enliven our spirits as we began to feel exhaustion.  Dressed in pink tutus and blasting America’s Top 40 music from their jerry-rigged boom boxes, these cops cheered us on, told dirty jokes, and were pure hilarity for the full three days. 

Then enter the Walker Stalkers. 

Walker StalkersThese are groups of men and women, dressed in outlandish costumes, who follow the walkers for all three days. My personal favorites were the Hookers for Hooters and Hula Hooters, both groups of women blasting party music from their vans, dancing like pole strippers.  Every time I saw them, a smile erupted onto my face and I forgot my burning feet for those few minutes.

Lisa, Me, Mom, and MandyMy mom and I also picked up a few awesome ladies within the first few miles, Mandy and Lisa, who became part of our ‘team’ and truly made the journey that much more fun.

 

 

As we entered the camp that first day, after 20 miles, I was tired and could not wait to take off my shoes.  As I peeled the socks off of my duct taped feet (which we used to keep the blisters away), I was horrified to find that both of my big toes had horrific blisters on them.  I had literally grown two gargantuan pus-filled ‘nipples’ off the sides of my toes.  I also had one on my heel.  I was so disappointed.  How was I going to be able to walk tomorrow?  I couldn’t even fit my feet into my Uggs. 

Blistered ToeI hobbled to the medic station, with tears in my eyes and an enormous weight in my heart.  What if I couldn’t continue tomorrow?  The nurse in the medic station cut into my blisters to drain them.  It hurt so badly that I had to call my mom after the first incision and ask her to hold my hand while they cut into the other two blisters.  I was devastated.  Throughout dinner I was silent and just climbed into our tent at about 7:30pm, hoping that a good night’s sleep would heal my wounds.

Day Two

As I woke up for Day Two, I stood up and realized that my popped blisters did not hurt as badly as I thought they may.  I bandaged up my feet, grabbed some breakfast, met up with my mom, Lisa and Mandy, and forged on for our next 20-mile day.  After a slight bit of rain, the blue skies prevailed as we powered through Ocean Beach and Point Loma.  Everywhere you looked there was an ocean view and pink women and men.  Along the journey we chatted with a woman my age, from Seattle, who had lost her mom to breast cancer when she was 16.  This was her 7th 60-mile breast cancer walk, for she found that it was the most therapeutic thing she could do to process the pain of losing her mother at such a young age.  We also walked alongside a woman who was a 7-year survivor whose hair decided that it didn’t want to ever grow back.

Dr. Doug - My Hero!At about mile 7 my feet started to really bother me.  I stopped at a pit stop to survey the damage.  The blisters had come back with a vengeance and my heart began to feel heavy again.  Then, enter Dr. Doug.  Dr. Doug is a sports medicine doctor, whose mad-skills at repairing blisters were only rivaled by his quick wit and love for the San Diego Aztecs!  As Dr. Doug was cleaning and bandaging my wounded feet, he reignited my hope that I could continue along in my journey to finish the 60 miles. 

 

Above Sunset CliffsAs we continued through Ocean Beach, the SDPD and SJPD started to get quite rowdy and our spirits soared.  The Walker Stalkers always showed up just as we were starting to let our pain take over. We plugged along through Mission Bay, battered feet starting to take a back seat to the leg cramps and shin splints.  At lunch, walkers were laying all over the grass, repairing their busted bodies, praying that these last 8 miles of the day would fly by.  Cheering crowds along the way handed us tequila shots and Dixie cups full of beer to help numb the pain.  This was a long frickin’ day, the hardest of them all!  Everyone was hurting.  Yet, we persevered.  40 miles down, constantly reminded by the fact that “blisters don’t need chemo.” 

As I surveyed my feet after 40 miles, I left my blisters alone.  I knew that there was only one day left, the final day.  These feet and cramping calf muscles would have to manage.  I wouldn’t let them stifle me.

Click here to read Susan G. Komen - A Change in My Perspective (Part Two)