Monday, 3 October 2011

My Annual Dose of Inspiration...

Yesterday, I had my annual dose of inspiration. I almost missed it, but I managed to squeeze it in – thank goodness! Yesterday, I joined 1300 people in Guelph and 170,000 Canadians in supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run for the Cure.

October snuck up on me and even though I have participated and supported this event for the past 6 years, I hesitated this year. I defaulted to the standard excuses – “I’m just too busy juggling school and home”, “its going to be cold and raining”, “I have homework”, “I’m tired” etc. etc.

On Thursday, I stopped at my friend/neighbour’s house to ask if she had signed up. Secretly I hoped she would say “no” – no such luck. Her co-workers had assembled a small team and she was going to join them – way to give me a kick in the butt, Carolyn! I joked about how I’d “just register” this year and pay my $40 fee to walk & spend time with Carolyn, who I haven’t seen in ages.

Sunday morning – drag myself out of bed to a dreary, windy, VERY COLD morning. Dressed in layers and made my way downtown Guelph to find parking. As I walked to the “square”, I heard it……bagpipes. My heart wrenched. How could I have possibly thought not to come??

I hurried to the square and waited for the opening ceremonies. As always, my vision blurred with tears as the bagpipe band played and led a small group of women in pink T-shirts – the Warriors – the Survivors. These women marched and I cheered and screamed for them as they past me in a blur of pink. I managed to wipe my tears and shake off my goosebumps, only to brace myself for the variety of speeches that followed. One speaker was a woman currently fighting breast cancer. She called herself a “Warrior”. She told us of seeing her doctor and being told she had breast cancer. Her response was “I have a meeting in 20 min and 2 proposals due tomorrow – I don’t have time for cancer!” WOW. She was given 1 week to get her affairs in order after which she started aggressive cancer treatment. Her story was amazing and she is still fighting.

I looked around at the people surrounding me – all had tags on the back of their shirts “I’m running for…” and they all had a variety of names and relationships on them. Some had photos of their loved ones who have been claimed by this disease. One lady pushed a stroller with an infant seat covered with a canopy to which a tag was pinned – “I’m running for…my Grandmother whom I never had a chance to meet”. Cue the tears….

How could I have hesitated to support and participate in this amazing event?? How could I have gotten so caught up in my busy life, that I forgot about the “big picture”??

I stood there in the cold and tuned out the speeches of the sponsors and politicians as I scanned the crowd, looking for my special friend Sandi. The first time I joined the Run for the Cure, I showed up with my 1 year old son in his stroller and was going to walk the 5K alone. I knew that I was joining a worthy cause, but it was one that I thought affected “older” people. The first person I met (in the parking lot) was Sandi and her family. She asked me to join her team and I walked the whole way with her. Her story was the most shocking and inspirational story that I heard. She is my age and her son is the same age as mine. She was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer while she was pregnant with her son and she had to deliver her baby prematurely in order to start very aggressive treatments to combat her cancer. 7 years later she is a happy, healthy, cancer-free Mom of a beautiful, healthy little boy. Her story hit me so close to home and made me realize how blessed we truly are to have our health. She faced all adversities, battled her cancer and won and is living a normal life just like you and me. Her courage, strength and enthusiasm for life have always inspired me to be grateful for what I have been blessed with. She has put a real face to this cause.

Every year since that year, I have canvassed my neighbours, friends and family to raise money for Breast Cancer Research and have captained a team of friends to participate in the Run for the Cure.

This was the first year that I haven’t met Sandi. Thanks to Facebook, I know that she and her little boy are both healthy and happy. This was also the first year that I hesitated to register for the run, I didn’t collect donations and I didn’t captain a team. I lost the “big picture” while I muddled through my busy life. I resolve to not let this happen again! I am blessed to have my health, a wonderful husband, two great kids and loving family and friends.

I am determined to not lose sight of the “big picture” again. If I do, feel free to remind me! I will try to remember Carolyn’s wise words every day – “There is a beautiful sunrise on the horizon - look up and enjoy it! Don’t get caught up in the weeds and garbage at your feet”. You are wise woman and a great friend Carolyn. Thanks for showing me the big picture, once again!

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