In the grand scheme of things 4 miles isn't that far. Years ago I wore a pedometer to see how much (or how little) I was moving on a daily basis and there were definitely days I walked way more than 4 miles.
But when those miles are walked/run/jogged by 3500 women in hopes of finding a cure for breast cancer they mean a hell of a lot.
I participated in the Charlottesville Women's Four Miler this weekend in honor and remembrance of my friend Chrissy, whom I've written about several times here. This race is held every year (this was the 20th!) in Charlottesville on Labor Day Weekend to benefit the UVA Cancer Center Breast Care Program. It's an amazing race for so many reasons. First, to see 3500 women plus thousands of others supporting them lined up along Garth Road on the grounds of Foxfield is awe inspiring. The fact that the proceeds stay locally and support cutting edge breast cancer research, patient education, support services, and community outreach is pretty great too. And the "Motivational Mile" - a display of names honoring those affect by cancer along the last mile of the course reminding each of participant of why we're there. There were not one, not two, but three posters honoring Chrissy's memory on the Motivational Mile this year - a testament to how much she is loved and missed.
This was the first year that I have been able to participate in the Four Miler as we usually travel Labor Day Weekend. My friends, on the other hand, have all done it together for the past several years. This is year was the first without Chrissy, who ran it last year in 49 minutes with feet covered in blisters from the chemotherapy she was receiving at the time. Talk about inspirational.
We did this race not just in memory of Chrissy but in memory of all the people who have lost their lives, lost loved ones or are fighting against cancer right now. I am certain that cancer has affected every single one of us in some way. In addition to Chrissy and also I lost a great friend to skin cancer prior to his 30th birthday - my dad is a colon cancer survivor - Kirsten lost her best friend to breast cancer - Anne lost her mom - Holly lost her dad to cancer and has a mom who is a breast cancer survivor (yay, Monica!) - Cara lost her dad to lung cancer two weeks ago - Erin's mom is a breast cancer survivor (yay, Alice!) - Carrie's dad is undergoing radiation for cancer as I write this.... I'm sure you have a story, too.
As I've been training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day I've read some pretty staggering statistics about breast cancer. At times it feels almost overwhelming, like we'll never be able to find an end to it. But then I watch a video from a survivor or read a survivor story or look in to the eyes of Chrissy's kids...and I know it will happen. It has to.