I spent the weekend in Santa Barbara for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It’s the second time I have been to this but the first time I finished both days. I was also alone this time. While alone in my room and the train on the way home, instead of opening a journal and writing my thoughts in the privacy of a book, I did what most of us do, I posted it on Facebook. Privacy? Yea, I don’t much believe in it.
I’m posting this here for two reasons, a) it’s my blog and I want to, and b) I decided to do the walk again next year and I want to put this out there for others who may have thought about doing it, or never have but think it may be a “bucket list” item to check off, or just read it and think “that’s fine for you”.
Thoughts from a weekend
Friday Sept 5: Inn at East Beach
I’m in the hotel room. I should be asleep. I have to wake up before 5am to walk to the hotel where the shuttle picks people up. I’m figuring I could wake up half an hour later and go directly to the opening ceremony but that would be walking a mile before I walk 26 miles. Not sure which it’ll be. I guess morning will determine that.
I’m in a quiet hotel alone with the overhead fan going. It’s so lovely. I brought stuff to entertain myself with but really all I want to do is play online games and type this. I can because no one will ask me what I’m doing and if they can use my phone next.
No purpose in this post. I just wanted to put down what I’m thinking and there isn’t paper or a pen around.
I think I love Santa Barbara even if it is too white washed and predictably perfect. I suppose at this point I just want to just ‘be’ rather than fight for something I think I want until I get it and lose interest. What? I don’t know.
Saturday Sept 6: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
26.2 miles walked plus 1 mile each way to get to the shuttle. I got to my lil hotel. The owner let me know he set me up with Epsom salt (as well as other walkers this weekend) and told me to get as much ice as I needed. I like when people are nice just to be nice without expectations of any kind. Nice is nice.
The day was supportive, female focused (but not male excluded), and heart wrenching at times. Everyone was thankful. Volunteers, walkers, people in neighborhoods, tourists, passerby’s. At times I didn’t pay attention because it was a long way to the end but then I would see a woman who was obviously dealing with cancer, or a random woman would say “I’m a survivor of __ years” excitedly. There was a woman who said nothing but every couple of miles she stood with different signs telling of the women she lost and always writing thank you for walking. It was heavy but in a festive and celebratory tone. Surreal.
I listened to conversations about personal experiences while passing other walkers. Cancer is so common that it isn’t shocking. That’s sad.
So I walked for 9 hours and I came to my room, poured the ice in the tub, added cold water and Epsom salt, and thought about how so many people said thank you but nobody said you’re welcome because it wasn’t about that. It was a day of being nice to each other without any expectations.
Sunday Sept 7: Pacific Surfliner Amtrak
I’m in the train heading home. I’ve only done this one other time which was hell but it’s a quiet and smooth ride after a long weekend.
Today was the last 3rd of the 39.3 of the Avon Walk. I woke up refreshed and ready to go. Minimal discomfort and totally rested. I passed out before 8 and slept hard.
The walk was hard. The sun was bright, the heat heavy, and the town without any visual stimulation. Carpentaria was not interesting.
The tone was more subdued but the cheering was more enhanced. There was a lot of time inside my head today. Mind you, I’m not someone who complains about what happens in there. It can be intense but usually ends with a fun mental cocktail. No I never told any therapists about it, I don’t think they understand voices you aren’t scared of. But I digress.
At 6am, I was talking to two women about this event. One of them, a woman working to decrease breast cancer death rates in African-American communities was talking passionately about the reason she does this walk every year. She said that she reminds herself that she is merely the conduit for the donors who are the ones that are making the real difference. This rang through my mind as I struggled to make this last stretch worth my time.
By the time I was done, exhausted, feeling accomplished, irritated, humbled, and thinking I did what I set out to do, I realized I want to be one of the conduits that brings money to provide free mammograms to women who can’t afford it, to research organizations that are working to find out why and how to end it, to educate young women to get regular exams, and to provide support for those fighting through to survive. I want to walk as long as my body allows and I’m going to keep begging and bugging for donations to do it. Like I just texted to Sue, either I liked it or I’m a masochist but that’s what I decided to do.