October is breast cancer awareness month. For me, it included walking 30 miles, raising money for breast cancer research and programs, speaking and singing engagements, volunteering, advancing to tennis city championship, and thanking God for it all!
The first weekend in the month a few of my "Simply the Breast" teammmates and friends gathered for a team fundraiser at Paint-N-Party in Dallas. We had so much fun. We painted our breast cancer ribbon/butterfly in all types of shades and colors but the common theme for sure was that we all have a hope that a cure is found. Paint-N-Party has agreed to partner with us in 2015 for more fundraising fun.
The following week I was asked to speak at Fulton County Women's Health Fair. It was my first speaking engagement for the cause, and I was excited to share my story. There was a crowd of 300 or so. I felt a bit awkward with my written speech in hand. Others on the program had given their testimony without notes. I didn't beat myself up too much about it. But, I know this story. It is, after all, my story to tell. I engaged the audience by having them repeat multiple times that "Breast Cancer know longer has to be a death sentence. Early detection is key". I drove home three key points: Know Thy Self, Feel yourself up, Get your mammorgrams. What better way to head into a weekend where I would join a 1,000+ walkers for the Atlanta 2 day.
My previous blog post talked about my Atlanta 2 day experience. Without question, it was an absolutely amazing adventure. My team - Simply the Breast - crossed the finish line despite blisters, hurt knees, tired and incredibly achy feet. We did it! 30 miles in 2 days. While the rain made it much more difficult that weekend, I count it as a way to make the weekend that much memorable. We absolutely loved the experience so much that IN SPITE of knowing fully the challenge it entails we have already registered for 2015!!! Prior to the walk, the Executive Director for It's the Journey asked if I would hold one of the survivor signs and escort the survivors and walkers across the finish line. Talk about an HONOR! I cried more than once that weekend. But, when I crossed the finish line, I was all smiles. In total, our team raised over $17,000. It's The Journey raised over $1,000,000!
God is so worthy to be praised. During the course of the month, I joined my fellow breast cancer survivors in praise and worship through song. I am in a choir called "Shades of Pink". The choir consists of all breast cancer survivors. It's encouraging for me to see survivors who reach double digits. Survivors know exactly what that means :-O. When we visited one of the local churches, the pastor said that instead of survivors he liked to refer to us as OVERCOMERS. Yes, I like it! I am, We are ... overcomers! When I crossed the triathlon finish line, I knew THEN that I was truly an OVERCOMER!
Karlissa, an employee from Nuclear Regulatory Commission, read my newspaper article entitled "SHE DID IT" that chronicled my triathlon. She contacted me in September to ask if I could participate in their breast cancer awareness program. Of course, I agreed. This time, I did it without notes and shot straight from my heart. I had an opportunity to share the speaker's podium with Shondia Mcfadden-Sabari (Bold and the Breastless). In 2013, she and I were both honored at the Atlanta Dream game. So, I was super excited to have an opportunity to sit and chat with her. She has an incredible story and testimony. The host, Karlissa, and the employees of NRC were receptive, supportive, and incredibly kind.
Last weekend, I had the prvilege to volunteer for YSC (Young Survival Coalition) and their ride for breast cancer also called Tour de Pink. It was a long weekend but well worth it. I traveled to Alpharetta Friday and spent about 7 hours helping with t-shirt and incentive distribution for those who were pickig up their packets. I high fived every survivor I could. They deserved it! The bike routes included mileage from 16 to 90! I set my alarm for 3:30am Saturday morning. We were asked to be onsite at 4am. We arrived at 4:30am. It was dark and cold. But, Kay, the event coordinator, had us running like a well oiled machine. We were setup and ready to go before the first biker/walker arrived. I had so much fun meeting other volunterers, sponsors, supporters, and particpants. It was work 4 sure! Exhaustion never felt so good ;-D.
I couldn't be happier to volunteer for an organization that helped me last year. I served on a planning committee for their annual fundraiser. Loving Arms Cancer Outreach was founded by two oncology nurses with a heart to do more for cancer patients, survivors, and families. I visited there when I needed a wig or two. (As many of you know, I was bald and bold. I never wore them & have since donated them back along with a couple I purchased). Last night, the fundraiser/event "Dancing with the Stars of Cobb County" took place. It wasn't technically an October event but we met weekly leading up to the event. I couldn't make every meeting. But, I did my best to make a contribution with my time and effort leading up to the event. I have so much respect and admiration for Shay and Diana, the founders, and the committed staff and volunteers. I hope that I'm able to give more of my time to Loving Arms because I believe in their mission wholeheartedly.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my tennis partner (Phenette) and I made spent our October winning playoff rounds that ultimately advanced us to City Championships (held yesterday). Tennis was always on my mind in 2013. I couldn't wait to get back to the court. It's taken several months for me to get my timing and rhythm back. We walked into city finals match yesterday with odds stacked against us because we were playing #1 seed & a team that we'd lost to during the regular season. But, we did it. We won! We are city champs!
All month long, I utilized social media to remind women of the importance of proper breast care. I believe breast cancer awareness is a 365 day mission for me and other survivors I know. However, it's just magnified and amped up a bit more in October. Without God's grace and mercy, I don't know where I'd be or what I'd do! I am thankful for every opportunity I've been given this year. When I was in treatment in 2013, my mind was always set on 2014. Every day, I am reminded ... "the race is not given to the swift nor to the strong but to the one that endureth all the day long". Thank you, Lord!
I also attended provided Bio & Photo shoot at Turning Point (very pivotal in my road back to the land of physical activity) for Fulton County Women's Journal. When I could I reminded survivors and friends that I am #missionstrong as a part of Amoena's #missionstrength campaign.
Energy, Time, and Effort are just a few things that I want to give back to the community of survivors, agencies, friends, and family who have given so much to me in my time of need.
My hope is that my testimony encourages, inspires, and motivates others. Hugs and Love, CC
If you're interested in joining my Simply The Breast team in 2015 or giving a donation - please use the link below: http://bit.ly/1vCkaNe