Susan’s diagnosis, surgery, chemo and radiation was 14 years ago spanning 2000 and 2001 Every year since then she has made this walk. Her walk tomorrow will be here 13th walk. For the first ten years of this process I understood the walking to be something Susan did for herself and that for me to get involved would be a form of intrusion into her “thing.” It was four years ago that she told me she had always wanted me to walk with her. It surprised me, but who was I to say no. And hey, it was just walking, who couldn’t do that! So I signed up with Susan to do the Avon Walk in 2011 in Chicago.
Whew. I barley finished. Despite having trained for months with Susan and her friends, I struggled each day. At the end of the first day my calves and back were so sore I literally walked in to the “camp” and fell to my knees. The staff come rushing towards me to see if I needed help. They are trained to watch out for collapsing older men, I guess. Susan waived them off and she and my daughter, who also walked with us, helped me up and walked me to the medical area for a little massage work.
The next day I started off strong again, but about 5 miles into the last 13 miles my hips were so sore I had to buy a cane and limp across the finish line. I did finish!
Last year we walked in New York and it was a different story. I am sure this week-end will be as well. I am now more fit and about 60 pounds lighter than three years ago.
What I learned through this experience and what I know now about these walks is that they are a vehicle for Susan to stay fit and well and to keep the breast cancer that sits latent in her body still. For me, it keeps me light and fit and continue to be well, keeping whatever is latent in my body still as well.
Research has confirmed that physical fitness and diet has a significant impact on survival rates for cancer patients. Susan is living proof of that.
The Actual Dance is about the journey through the darkest time into the light and hope of survival. The Avon Walks are about realizing that hope. There has been some criticism of the so called “Pink” movement as diverting resources from basic research. That view is short sighted and fails to recognize or acknowledge the impact these walks and races have in creating paths to survival.
Our walk tomorrow is in a reality a walk for life – our lives. Especially Susan’s life. The Actual Dance ends with a question: How long will Susan survive her cancer? The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer gives us a measuring stick – for as long as she walks she will survive.
We walk for life. The life of all of those who have had or will have breast cancer and are made stronger and determined by each mile, each year.
Next year we will walk in Washington, DC. Join us. Let us know if you want to be part of The Actual Dance Team.