The crowd at the Mother’s Day Canal Walk was as diverse as they come. From babies in strollers to grandmas, and even canines, they sported bright pink signs that honored someone who had fought breast cancer. From my vantage point behind the specials table at the auction, I talked to folks from all over Western New York, Canada and even a couple from Missouri. For a few brief hours on Sunday they came from all walks of life to walk united in a common cause.
The sea of cheery pink that is the signature color of the day raises hope amid the sadness for those lost to the disease that claims so many women of all ages. Still too many…and so they walk on. Mary’s Wig Room at the American Cancer Society is an awesome place that helps women maintain their appearance and dignity through rounds of drugs that at times seem worse than the disease. Named in honor of Mary Marvin, one of the originators of the Canal Walk, it is a free and unique service provided to anyone who asks. It is one more oasis of compassion and caring on the long journey faced by cancer patients.
Eight years ago, when we first started our American Cancer Society Relay For Life in Barker, the Canal Walk was already established. Lucy Burger and Kay Passuite contacted me and invited me to come to their event to reach out to survivors and to promote our own event. When you’ve been a part of it, you stay a part of it. I remember an afternoon in a driveway in Lockport (Lucy’s daughter I think) where I helped Lucy, Kay, Caroline Larkin and other breast cancer survivors make an assembly line to stuff goodie bags for walkers. To this day I remember the sharing of jokes and laughter. I remember being in awe of the strength and determination of these women,- these fiesty, battle-scarred victims of the insidious disease that knows no boundaries. I still am. They, like Mary Marvin, chose to stand up and fight and, thank God, most are still with us, walking the walk and talking the talk.
The success of yesterday’s walk can be viewed in the number of walkers, attendees and dollars raised but the true measure of its worth is in friendships forged, in a battle shared. I’ll be back in my spot behind the table next year and for as long as they’ll have me. To be a part of the event is an honor and a tonic for the soul. Life is a contact sport; you need to jump in and play it! If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines and thinking life was boring, sad or lonely, you need to lace up those sneakers, oil your walkers and get up off your good intentions. The rewards are priceless.