I woke up at 4:15am, freezing, although that wasn’t the first time. The Port-a-Johns had glow sticks hanging from the handles so you could see in the dark. We didn’t have that comfort in boot camp either. And I was waiting for them to start yelling “Get up, Get up Get on line now!” as I’d heard over and over again in boot camp. But we, my fellow soldiers against the enemy called Cancer, were responsible to get ourselves up, get dressed, take down the tent after packing your belonging and then get some chow.
I was surprised that I could still walk. I actually felt better this morning, but my blisters were still there. I had gotten a new pair of sneakers at Reebock headquarters to finish my walk. Although wearing new sneakers is frowned upon, I had no other choice. Breakfast was over. It was time to begin. Another 13.1 miles, by myself. I lost my walking partner, my get-up-and-move motivator, so today I had to reach down deep.
By mile two I couldn’t believe how much pain I was in from my blisters. The pain was traveling into my right knee, due to the way I was walking, and I had to keep talking to myself, telling myself that I couldn’t quit. “This is for Sarah, Marie, Millie, I have to finish this.” I have been through a ton of physical challenges Including chemo and radiation and I was not to be denied the pleasure of walking across that finish line!!!
Each arrow that I saw was another arrow closer to the finish line. By mile 11, I had to jog in between walking. I wasn’t trying to be a hero or anything, I simply just couldn’t walk. It was actually easier to jog. Now would my asthma hold off? I looked way up into the sky and said “Papa, I need you for this one, can you help me from way up there?” The random text messages I received from Bobby, Terry, and Lina were extremely uplifting and encouraging. I just couldn’t quit.
The cheering on the side of the road, the families that were outside of their homes giving us water, freeze pops, lollipops, starburst, tootsie rolls, cookies – it was amazing. Little children with their pink Pom Poms cheering us on and saying “Thank You.” Then, it was closer to the finish line that I expected. The last mile I mostly jogged because if I stopped for a second the pain was too severe. As I ran by Boston High School graduation, and saw the pink balloons and floats, I knew the end was near. ‘I made’ it I thought. I made it.
I jogged through the finish line and stopped for water and rest as a volunteer placed my medal around my neck. I was so hot, and found some comfort sitting under a tree as I took my sneakers off. I was in so much pain. I had to walk over to medical so they could redress my blisters. I grabbed lunch after that, shivering cold, and waited for Bobby to arrive. This was at 11:30, closing ceremonies were at 2:30.
I didn’t make closing ceremonies due to the severe pain and inability to walk which made me somewhat sad that as a two time survivor I couldn’t be there, but I made it to the finish line. I suppose that was good enough, but sadly it’s a piece of the ceremony that I still wish I could’ve been a part of.
Team Nique Strong will be back next year. I will be registering in June and the walk next year is in July 2016. I think with a little more than a year to fundraise my whole team will get there sporting NiqueWear and being part of a family that has all been touched by cancer in one way or another.
Again, thank you for all the support and sponsors. I could not have done this without you, and my sister-in-law Terri, who fundraised with me every weekend, to make sure I reached my goal.
Yours in good health,