By KIM HWANG
AAP staff writer
Twin Cities (August 25, 2013) — The, 3-Day/60 Mile, “Race For a Cure,” happily welcomed over 1000 walkers to the Twin Cities on August 23rd. On this day, everyone came together for a common purpose! Collective efforts and sacrifices made increased resources for people coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer. This was a day of hope!
The spectacular event allowed us to set aside fears about breast cancer for three days and focus on potential cures. August 23rd allowed us to actively hope for a cure. We gathered to delight in this unique and precious experience, which allowed us to cultivate hope through camaraderie. The 3-Day, “Race For a Cure,” created a nourishing experience that allowed walkers to raise money for breast cancer research. The prevailing essence of, “The Susan G. Komen Race For a Cure,” reminded us that walking together was significant.
In April of 2013, I wrote a feature story about an extraordinary therapist who continues to be a catalyst towards ongoing and qualitative change. Ms. Gayle Crandell, MA, LPCC., facilitates a therapeutic support group for women to discuss issues related to breast cancer. Often, Ms. Crandell speaks enthusiastically about general ways in which women in the group motivate and inspire her. Shared narrative accounts allow women to discuss nuanced and powerful stories without stigma or fear of being misjudged. It’s a safe place for women to receive positive support and encouragement. The purpose of this group reflects the mission of the 3-Day walk, “Everyone deserves a lifetime!” As they wrestle with the ongoing diagnosis of breast cancer, women entrust a group process and through faith, share their experiences together.
Ms. Crandell is whole-heartedly committed to and passionate about practicing psychology. Therefore, I decided it was time to reciprocate and do something supportive in return. My Korean heritage informed me that it was time to give back.
Signing up for the, “Race For a Cure,” seemed like one small way I could support her passion and indirectly help the women she speaks so highly of. Too often, relationships are bound to ideas, “If you do this . . ., Then, I will . . .” Imagine a place where you are loved and cared about based on whatever you are able to bring to the relationships. The 3-Day walk reflected this and so does the group Ms. Crandell facilitates. The decision was made, I registered on March 31st for the, “The 3-Day, 60 Mile, Twin Cities/Race For the Cure.”
On April 1st, I realized that physical training was quite an undertaking that would require a high level of commitment. Prior to training, I had grown comfortable eating potato chips and jellybeans while watching mindless television. Little did I know, that training for fifteen weeks would lead to ongoing emotional, psychological and personal health for me as well? Initially, I wasn’t confident. I possessed the stamina and endurance of a turtle. How would I complete a 60-mile walk? My friend even gave me the children’s book underscoring the experience of the turtle and the hare.
I began training on ice and snow. I started by entering and walking 5K/10K, races/walks throughout the Twin Cities. My first 5K-walk around Como Lake was freezing cold. I bundled up in four different layers of thick clothing, looking like the equivalent of a, Korean Michelin Man. I began the walk first walk with some confidence. But, within 5-10 minutes, I wondered, “Where did everyone go?” Not surprisingly, I finished last. I knew this because when I crossed the finish line, two men yelled to each other, “We can take the finish line down now!” The parking lot had emptied and the volunteers had taken the equipment apart. I told myself, “At least I showed up and I finished.” My bar was not very high.
After 10 plus . . . 5K/10K walks throughout the summer, I gained some confidence needed to participate in the, “Race For the Cure.” I celebrated each walk by sharing what I accomplished with friends and family. I felt a celebration was in order each time I remained vertical and there were no signs of crash paddles.
As weeks flew by, miles increased and training consumed countless hours. I’m definitely a turtle versus a hare. I also noticed that I was no longer finishing last. I was thrilled. I’d take a victory, which always meant, “Nobody cried, nobody died!” Typically, I like to compete with myself. But the walks preceding the 3-Day Race reminded me that increased mental stamina, some psychological hardiness and zeal were equally important. Where was this going to come from?
I contemplated about the purpose and intention of training, as well as the cumulative event awaiting me. Training for the 60 mile walk, forced me to push myself in a multitude of ways that were anywhere from uncomfortable to difficult. I found myself wondering, “How do people move through difficult circumstances?”
Then, I imagined what a diagnosis of breast cancer might be like? What is it like to be diagnosed with cancer? Do all people require chemotherapy? How does a person’s life change? How do families support people with breast cancer during this time? How do some people cope with the emotional and physical tiredness? What does support look like and how would a day in and day out challenge unfold? How many women have children? Are they angry? Are they sad? Do they feel cheated or at peace? What’s it like to possibly feel uncomfortable and in pain for more than three days, more than 15 weeks? I realized, I needed to walk through the pain and that I could do hard things.
Consequently, anytime I wanted to discontinue training because I was tired, uncomfortable or busy, I realized that the women dealing with breast cancer don’t have the option to quit or discontinue the experience. Therefore, I didn’t give myself an out. The goal to raise money for breast cancer research, health care and medical procedures was always on my mind, in my heart and imprinted in my soul. Training for the 60 mile walk and raising money consumed some part of each day. I imagined that everyone with breast cancer has a much more magnified and imposing daily experiences?
The Susan G. Komen, “Race For the Cure, 3-Day, 60 mile walk,” came to the Twin Cities the weekend of August 23rd-25th. In a crowd of one thousand plus walkers, it became quite apparent that this movement mattered. It was something more than nothing. Over one thousand women began walking at 5:00 O’clock a.m. from Edina, Minnesota. The sixty-mile finish line ended at the Minnesota State Capitol, three days later on August 25th. The Twin Cities, “Race For the Cure,” resulted in contributions totaling more than two-million dollars. This money will be used to research a cure for breast cancer, supportive programs for people with breast cancer and important medical procedures.
Working towards this goal reminded me that physical training also includes exercising your mind and spirit as well. While I wasn’t able to keep pace with my team, and didn’t complete the full 60 miles, I was overwhelmingly motivated by the support of friends and family who encouraged me along the way. I could not have walked for three consecutive days without positive messages from friends who believe that a cure will be found. Finally, I could not have walked the processional at the end if I hadn’t trained my mind, body and spirit, all along the way. While I thought my participation was to thank Ms. Crandell and give something back. I benefitted more than I could have ever anticipated.
The accumulation of training experiences, support from others and the race itself reminded me that when people come together towards a common goal, the impact is magnanimous. Thousands of people, volunteers, supporters, community members, contributors, cheering neighbors and walkers made decisions to do something more than nothing. Together, two million dollars was raised to support people with breast cancer. I felt honored and privileged to be apart of this remarkable experience. My attempt to reciprocate kindness resulted in an enormous emotional return that will fuel me to do more!
Participating in the, “Race For the Cure,” indirectly connected me to a group of women who courageously support one another despite the confines of breast cancer. Through this connection and their combined spirits, I became more. Being a part of a collective movement reminded me that any kind of contribution matters. The human condition is bound together and intertwined. We CAN rise together. We can support one another. We can make a difference. The domino effect is unending.