Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Tampa Bay 3-Day for the Cure Recap ~ Day 2

Visiting dreamland didn’t happen as I had hoped. You would think that one would be exhausted after walking 20 miles in a day.  This little story will explain why dreamland was hard to find. Not too long after waking, one of our neighbors, in a tent about 18” away from ours, returned from the shower and asked her tent mate, “How did you sleep last night?”. The tent mate responded, “Not at all.” The freshly showered tent mate says, “I thought you slept well since you sure were snoring earlier.”

Not long after trying to find the sandman I realized that Michele thought it was me snoring because she readjusted in her sleeping bag and let out an aggravated sigh; however, upon waking, the realization hit her that it wasn’t me because I was sitting up and the log sawing continued. Michele and I did share a good chuckle about the snoring over our breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

After breakfast, we made sure our water bottles were full and got in line to start walking at about 7:40 a.m. Michele and I knew that we were going to walk at a fast pace today since we planned on having a little reunion at John’s Pass. Because of the faster walking pace, I decided to wear my sneakers and carried my Vibram FiveFingers in my waist pack.

Off we went on a new day’s adventure. Today Michele and I set out on our walk. As we were progressing along, I noticed an older gentleman walking with a picture of a young lady pinned to his back. I was done guessing and asked him about the picture. Hugh went on to tell me that his wife is an RN and had cared for the young woman for four and half years before the young woman lost her battle with breast cancer. With teary eyes we parted ways.

Thinking this day would be similar to the one before, I quickly realized by my conversation with Hugh that each day would hold its own unique experiences. And this proved truer than I ever imagined when up the road I saw a familiar faced little girl handing out water in front of a house. As I was trying to figure out why she looked so familiar, I saw her mother and it all clicked. I hadn’t seen Cheryl, a high-school classmate, since attending the funeral for a three year old angel who lost her battle with cancer eight years ago. Cheryl, her husband John, and their three children were cheering on their neighbor who was also walking.

The day also held other surprises and support. We had cheerleaders, Girl Scouts, a boy fishing for the cure, the Pink Dragon Ladies ~ Team Survivors, and the Seminole Fire Department. The firefighters were also so kind to give us drinks and Italian ice to cool us off. Wink-wink! This was followed by one of my favorite Pit Stops. This Pit Stops mission was to fill the port-a-potties. Upon exiting the potty, the crew cheered you for getting them closer to reaching their goal. Okay, maybe you had to be there for it to be funny, but it does fit nicely into the 3-Day motto of “drink, pee, no IV.”

Michele and I needed this reminder since we were on a mission for the day. We were having a small reunion at John’s Pass and were on a mission to get there as quick as we could. After getting our credential scanned at lunch, we discovered we were doing great on our mission. Although I can remember the exact number I think we went from being the 550 walkers out the gate to around 330 in for lunch.

After getting a quick bite and attending to my hot spots, we were on our way, and we passed Jenne Fromm walking with a 3-Day staff member. Little did I know a little further down the road she had a pleasant surprise for me ~ a mile or so back I dropped my red glitter heart sunglasses. I thanked her profusely and told her without them my world isn’t right. Again, I guess you had to be there to find the humor.

After sharing a laugh with Jenne, Michele and I were approaching John’s Pass. As we entered the shops, Michele pulled from her pack a banner for mom since our journey was for her since she fought for us. The walk through the shop area was indescribable, and a bit funny. Michele and I again spotted a familiar face. Michele said to the lady aren’t you Paige’s mom. The ladies reply was no. Michele and I looked at each other and Michele said you aren’t Paige’s mom, Vivian. She finally agreed she was. :)

We got back on the path and not too far ahead spotted them. Mom came running out to meet us and the three of us hugged like we never hugged before with tears rolling down our cheeks. Michele and I made our rounds thanking the rest of our cheerleaders, which included Michele’s husband, Ken; Michele’s daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Derek; Michele youngest, Jennifer; our brother, Thane; our other brother, Dave, and his friend, Debbie; dirt road gang member and an awesome supporters, Rick, and Renee; and our cousin, Joyce, and her granddaughter, Amaya.

It was great seeing all of them since I hadn’t seen Joyce in more years than I can guess. It was also the first time I met Amaya; it was also a first for meeting Rick’s wife Renee. I also hadn’t seen Rick in at least eight years. It was awesome, but way too short! Did I mention Thane wouldn’t stop hugging me ~ Nah! If he did, I wouldn’t complain. After all the hugging we realized Dave was putting his cheer bag contents to good use; he was wearing a pink wig and tutu and had purchased a pink shirt, but what was under the shirt was over and beyond any imaginable support even though we had joked about Thursday evening. Dave had made a visit to the barber shop and had a ribbon shaved in his chest hair.
After visiting for a bit, it was difficult telling them good bye, but we still had about seven miles ahead of us. After leaving John’s Pass we crossed some beautiful bridges with awesome views, and before the next pit stop, we walked on a sidewalk right along the beach.When reaching the pit stop, we were greeted by a pink THING. I think Michele gave IT a pinch on its tushie to see if it was indeed real ~ take a look at the pictures, and you will see what I mean.

While taking a break, I decided I needed to switch back to my Vibrams, and it was then I discovered I had a small blister on the ball of my foot. I tended to my blister, gooed my feet up with Body Glide, and proceeded to put on my Vibrams. It was then I noticed Michele walking by me; at first I didn’t know what she was doing until I saw a photographer taking a picture of my feet. He asked me a few questions about my feet, and we were on our way to finish out another day.
 On our journey back to camp, we met Pottery Julie’s mom and Julie’s daughter Niblette. Niblette was entertaining herself in the car while grandma cheered the walkers on. Grandma complained the whole time how rough it is to come to Florida from Georgia to spend time with her granddaughter at the beach while Julie and Val walk. I think grandma’s complaint was really full of blessings.

The last few miles of Day 2 were the only point in this walk that I didn’t count my blessing. This was, however, brief. I whined a little about my baby blister, but quickly, noted if I cut my foot like I had mentioned, I would have to hop the rest of the way back. At this point, that probably wasn’t a good idea.

Although those last few miles were truly Komen miles, the welcome back at camp is always full of high fives and thank you! And more important, when walking back into camp, I see the flags and recount they  hold the purpose of the walk ~ the milestones, the people, and what it takes by those who fight the fight.

Our routine was a little different for camp. We iced our feet down, showered, and had a delicious steak dinner. At dinner we were treated to a live concert by Candy Coburn, and she rocked the tent. Dusty encouraged a few walkers to get up and dance, and Candy noted that it had never happened before. After a song or two we welcomed the last walkers home and reminded that we are one day closer to the end of breast cancer.

Candy finished up her concert with a sing-along of Sweet Home Alabama, and whenever I hear the song in the future, I will think of Pottery Julie’s addition to the song. There is a video of it out there somewhere, and when I find it again, I will link it below. I will wan you if you watch that to get the full effect, you may have had to been there.

After many laughs the mood changed a bit. Michele and I visited the Remembrance Tent. We waited until it was dark out because at night the tents are aglow like white heavenly angels. Although I had prepared myself for how difficult the visit may be, I had no idea the impact it would have on my heart.

When you walk in the tent, the memorial ribbons are hanging above the tent. Around on the walls are framed photos of walkers who lost their battles. As I walked around, my heart sank over and over looking at the pictures of the women holding their young children. I thought of the milestones that were never shared because these lives were cut short. I read journals until my eyes wouldn’t allow me to read anymore. Before I left I wrote messages on the tent for the PINK WARRIORS that I am walking in memory .

The somberness of the tent was followed by an inspiring story by Carrie of Naughty Nodes. Carrie retold her story of her fight. Carrie learned five years to the month of her mother’s diagnosis that she also had breast cancer, and now, Carrie has been fighting for five years. When Carrie first received her diagnosis, her chances for survival weren’t good since the cancer spread to her ribs and into her lymph nodes; hence, her teams name. When Carrie was done, I don’t think there was a dry eye to be found. Carrie finished out her talk in the “fight like a girl” spirit when she loudly and proudly announced she walks because “EVERYONE DESERVES A LIFETIME!”

Carrie’s story was followed by some great laughs with the nightly game show. It is hard to explain it ~ you just had to be there. After the game show, Jenne called Dusty and the other male walkers on the stage,  and they started the dance party. Michele and I joined in for a dance or two.

After another day of walking, Michele and I decided it was time to get some sleep, and this time we had a new plan. First, we turned our tent so our door wasn’t directly facing a light, but we also did this so we a little further away from our log sawing neighbor. But more important, we broke out the ear plugs. After saying good night and putting in the ear plugs, it didn’t take long to drift off to sleep...

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