by Carol Ann Grace
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. After being diagnosed in October 2009, my husband and I said “Oh trust me…..we ARE aware”. At first, this month’s long spotlight just brought back painful memories, but this October, my perspective totally changed.
Being an administrative assistant with Apartment Finder really fits my personality because I like to be in the background taking care of the details, not in the forefront. So I reluctantly agreed to participate in the 2011 Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure as a member of The Birmingham Apartment Finder Team “Team Finder Cure”. Keli Lynch, Susan Clayton, Connie Allen and all the Alabama Apartment Finder family have been so supportive of me and this event, I felt I owed it to them to participate. When I arrived and was greeted by the race coordinators and volunteers with “we are glad you are here,” I knew that they did not mean “here to walk” but simply “here.” I have never seen so much love and support in one place at one time in my life.
With over 17,000 people expected at the walk, I was braced for chaos and confusion. What I witnessed was a city-wide family reunion of sorts. Each team huddled-up before the start of the race – hugs and laughter were the sights and sounds. There were survivors EVERYWHERE in their easily recognizable bright pink shirts, adorned with pink necklaces (one for each year of cancer free life). These ladies with handfuls of pink necklaces, representing years of cancer free life, are my heroes and a great source of hope for fellow survivors.
As I watched the sea of people walking the streets of Birmingham, I realized that I was witnessing the statistics come to life. I had thought, why would thousands of people commit their Saturday morning to this event? At that moment, I saw the answer right before me. The vast majority of the “racers” knew SOMEONE who had battled this disease – which stands to reason, since one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
There were also those groups who held large photos of their precious loved ones lost, walking in their honor and memory. The REAL reason for Breast Cancer awareness month and events like the Komen Race for the Cure became apparent. These things exist so that EVERY family/group can champion a SURVIVOR! The early detection and education programs and cutting edge research funded by these events are helping to make this battle winnable for every woman.
Thank you Orange Team! The painful memories of Breast Cancer awareness month have been replaced by pride, love and hope! You ladies made me feel like a true CHAMPION!