Friday, October 14, 2011

3-Day Closing Ceremony

After the last walker came in, and after we cheered for our hard working crew, it was time for the final part of our three day long adventure - the closing ceremony. All the walkers were told to line up 10 abreast (no pun this time), with all breast cancer survivors in the back. Although everyone struggled with this, somehow we did line up eventually. Then we walked through the Mall towards the stage while spectators on both sides of us cheered us on. It was actually pretty moving. Towards the stage, we divided left and right, and merged into the crowd. It was time for the Survivors' Walk.

When we completed the walk today, we were asked if we were a breast cancer survivor. If not, we got a white shirt, if so, it was pink. Most of the survivors had put on their pink shirt for this final walk. I looked out on the pink mass, seeming to be several hundred strong. They had all survived breast cancer and all of the awful things that happen as a result: disfiguring and painful surgery, chemotherapy, burning radiation. And now they had all walked nearly 60 miles for this great cause, so that one day, others would have an easier time of it. I gazed at the line of pink women, feeling so inspired and so fortunate to be here, a cancer survivor myself, yet still on God's green earth. As I studied the women in pink, and cheered for them, I wished so that my sister Ann could be among the survivors. She was for more than four years, but her cancer was just too relentless, too remorseless.Look at them! Look at their faces! Sometime in the last year, two years, five years, or more, each of these women were given horrible news by a doctor, four words that changed their lives forever: "You have breast cancer!" Their hearts probably nearly stopped with terror. Yet here they are now, strong survivors to inspire us all.As the surviving women stopped before us, speeches were made from the platform about this cause, and about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Many of the walkers took off a shoe and raised in in tribute. As a rookie, I didn't know about this, but I, too, removed my right shoe and held it aloft.Then the women in pink continued their walk towards the stage, moving between the two sides of the large crowd. Some of the survivors carried the banners that had inspired us for three days, since the opening ceremony:Just before leaving to grab my duffle and walk to a Metro stop for the trip back to my car, I took one final look around - at the crowd, the banners, all the pink, and to the surviving women on the stage. Doing this walk, being part of this cause these three days, will always be with me as a great memory.

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