Making Strides. This morning I made strides with the American Cancer Society. A big Thank You to all who supported me – and therefore supported ACS – and all those who came out to walk/volunteer/raise money.
There was a sea of pink. There was something of a party atmosphere. But there was also always focus on what the event was about.
I had decided that I would run this walk. I figured that if I was getting up early after a concert and late night, I might as well have fun and run. Some high school cross country teams and football teams were present – but they all walked. As I weaved through the walkers to the front, I thought I might be the only runner (hmm, maybe this would be a race I could win….). Then I saw a couple groups of boys running. I fell in with them. Me and a bunch of boys, probably aged 10-15. We chatted as we ran. They were running for their moms and aunts. One boy was running for his mom’s best friend.
It is easy to be cynical and angry about the pinkness of October. Businesses exploit the pink ribbon for their own profits. Organizations sometimes lose their way and seem more interested in their own brand than their mission. Pink priorities seem misdirected.
But this morning, I was reminded why these events matter.
Yes, there is a lot of money raised. I chose to participate in Making Strides because I really believe in the work of ACS and its impact on the lives of survivors and their families and friends.
Also, ACS was busy registering lots of people for their ongoing Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-3). This is another long-term prospective study; they will be following participants for 20-30 years. Participants must be between age 30 and 65, with no personal history of cancer. Results from previous Cancer Prevention Studies revealed links between physical activity and lower risk of breast, colon, and aggressive prostate cancers; links between diabetes and pancreatic and colon cancers; and the impact of air pollution on cardiopulmonary conditions, which prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to propose more stringent limits on particulate air pollution.
But mostly, I was reminded of how these events matter for individuals. I talked with women who have taken advantage of various ACS programs. I met a woman who got a wig from them. Another survivor now volunteers to drive patients to appointments because she relied on that when she was in treatment. And I saw hundreds of women who found strength and support this morning. Women, new-diagnosed, who, for at least a little while this morning, didn’t feel like they were alone in their fight. Women and men who found power from thousands of people coming together for common cause.
This is why.
And for a bunch of boys who are afraid of losing their mothers.
This is why.