Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Medical Tent | Dinner | Quiet Time

DAY ONE – Friday, August 24, 2007

Medical Tent – After the first days walk and shower, I needed to get my feet fixed up and taped to cover my enormous blisters. They were the hugest blisters I had ever seen. When I arrived there were about 40 people already in the tent and waiting in line. Their injuries ranged from blisters, pulled muscles, twisted ankles, sore knees, heat exhaustion, dehydration and many more injuries. The medical tent was supplied with a good array of emergency medical equipment and experienced doctors and nurses, who were all very supportive and super friendly. Yes, I, Melissa “Paparazzi on the Radio” even took pictures of the nurse draining my blisters as I laid on the table. Yeah…I know it is gross, but I couldn’t resist.

Dinner – Dinner is served from 4:00pm to 9:00pm at the dinner area, under a huge white tent with tables and chairs to rest and eat in the shade. Dinner the first night was spaghetti, green beans, breadsticks, salad and an Éclair (or as Angie would say, an Eau Clair). During dinner, the staff leads a group stretch so walkers don’t get cramped up. Again, it was amusing to see people, still holding their dinner forks, stand up and bend over to stretch.

Shhhhhh….Quiet Time – After dinner, Angie, Chris, D and I made our way back to our tents for Gigglefest 2007. We were so tired that everything was funny! It could have been a result of being lightheaded from the ounces of Bengay we spread all over our legs. 9:00pm was designated as quite time in camp. Talking in the tent city should be kept to a whisper, and no radios or music after the 9pm hour. The walkers were coached on how to quietly shut the PJ door instead of allowing it to bang shut, but as we went to bed at 8:15pm, we continued to hear the bangs of the doors, which got overwhelmingly annoying. All that said – bring earplugs. My first night sleep was severely restless, as we did not have an air pump for our air mattresses. Needless to say, sleeping on the hard ground with a stick the size of a canoe under my back was not enjoyable. Also, I had to sleep with my feet up on my suitcase to alleviate some swelling and throbbing blisters.

Day 1 was over and it was amazing!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Lunch | Walking Into Camp | Camp Life

DAY ONE – Friday, August 24, 2007

Lunch – Halfway through our route, we enjoyed our lunch break at Pinewood Elementary School in Mounds View. Lunch was efficiently laid out with sandwiches (chicken, turkey & Mexican wraps), chips, cookies, pasta salad, along with water & sports drink. Lunch time was the recommended time to change into a fresh pair of socks to help eliminate the chance of blisters. The first day, we grabbed our food and made our way down the hill of the softball field to a shaded area to eat. This is when I noticed my first blisters. While walking down the hill, I felt it break. POP! OUCH! After lunch and a stretch, I made my way to the medical tent to get my heels taped up. The medical staff was amazing! How they could keep going, day-after-day, touching feet all day long, is beyond my comprehension! Following the fixer-up, we made our way through Rice Creek Park and along the streets of Shoreview. We started to play the Alphabet Name Game along the way, which made the walks between pit stops go by faster. (George Clooney, Charles Manson, Martin Skoula, Sean Penn….) We gave high-fives to the men and women of the safety crew, who made sure we crossed safely at each intersection. The safety crew rode to their designated areas on their motorcycles, which were playing loud music to help us along our way. Oh…and don’t forget one of our key HOT motivators on the safety crew – Tattoo TONY!

Walking into Camp – Finally, after walking 19.6 miles, we came to the end of our first day. Angie and I questioned the accuracy of the signs posted that read “Pit Stop – 1 Mile Ahead” – it always seemed more like 2 miles. Due to the trail layout, our last pit stop in Shoreview was our final stop – we were bused to our camp at Harvest Park in Maplewood. After the 20 minute bus ride, we hobbled off the bus and entered camp to the loud and excited cheers of the crew who were lined up on both sides of the path to welcome each and every walker into camp. It never got old walking into camp and being welcomed. It made me feel a sense of accomplishment – just having walked 20 miles that day! It was amazing to see all the crew standing there in a line on each side of the walk, cheering like they just got there and were so proud of each walker!

Camp Life – The tent area was set up neatly in straight lines (F87 was our spot) made up of small bright pink tents, with the gear dropped nearby. When we arrived into camp, a little after 3pm on the first day, we had to go pick up our tent and gear by the gear trucks. Our tent was located ½ way through camp, one row from the PJs. Walkers were supposed to set up their own tents, but my teammate Deanna had some friends who were on the gear crew who offered to set up our tents for us! That was so great of them!  When we dropped off our gear at our site, we grabbed our shower stuff and headed to the showers. The showers were provided in shower semi -truck trailers. These have an open area for changing and shower stalls with curtains for showering. Along the walk, we were worried that it was going to be a large open area – for all to see. We got a good laugh about that. Long lines form later in the day, so it is a good idea to get your shower while the line is short or you could be waiting a while. We got our shower in right away.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Pit Stops | Cheering Stations | Cowboy Mike

DAY ONE – Friday, August 24, 2007

Pit Stops – Along the route (about every 3 miles) walkers stopped at Pit Stops, staffed with amazing crew members who helped with grabbing snacks (fruit, peanuts, chips, string cheese), water and sports drink, first aid and blister self-care. Here is a chance for walkers to use the porta-johns (PJs), rest and stretch.  Each Pit Stop also had a fun theme with signs, music, and costumes for the crew – everything from Wizard of Bras to Mardi-Bra to Decades of Music to Boobs Anatomy (Grey‟s Anatomy). Many of the pit stops had entries for a drawing for prizes that would be awarded later that night at camp. Gosh… anything to keep us motivated. It was very important to keep hydrated - I averaged about 16 oz. of liquid every 3 miles, which is why having waterless hand cleanser and hand wipes outside the PJs was very important.

Cheering Stations – We left the first pit stop and the skies were clear and the sun was out. People in passing cars honked and waved as if they just saw the Pope drive by. Drivers stopped at the stop lights watched in amazement as hundreds of people walked by. As we approached the first cheering station of the weekend, we heard the cheers well before we arrived. People were lined up on both sides of the sidewalk for blocks, clapping, cheering and holding signs with creative messages supporting the walkers they knew. As we walked by, I was overwhelmed with all the cheers to the point that tears formed - “Thank you for walking for my mom”, “Great Job Walkers”, “We are proud of you”. Outside of the cheering stations, there were random cheering stations set up along the way. We passed by small groups of people standing on street corners, sitting in lawn chairs, holding handmade signs, holding bowls of candy and handing out popsicles. Many had noisemakers and costumes. These people helped us get through miles and miles of road! We looked forward to seeing the cheering stations and random supporters – it helped us continue on.

Cowboy Mike – Speaking of the random cheering stations, there was one special supporter that we saw along the entire route – each and every day we would see him about 5 to 7 times. A single man who had a decorated van and wore a pink leopard print cowboy hat who was there supporting his fiancé. Cowboy Mike. I found a message he left on the 3-Day message boards that I thought was wonderful.

Message from Cowboy Mike: “I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of the 3-Day walkers and staff that made the 2007 3-Day something I'll never forget. When I showed up at the walk, I had a job to do. I knew there were 2500-some-odd walkers, but I was there to support just one of them—Tricia Liebert. She is the love of my life, the one that I'm going to grow old and gray with, and my reason for living. I will do anything & everything to support her. This was her second 3-Day. She walked every single step last year, every single step this year and there is no doubt in my mind that she'll walk every single step next year. My job is to make it just a little bit easier for her. My plan was to try to meet up with her every couple of hours. I had a cooler full of ice-cold Smart Water, cool towels, Arnica Gel and other various and sundry supplies that Trish might need during the walk. I had a chair that she could park in or a truck she could go hide in. Oh -- and by the way, we painted up the truck and I put on a goofy pink hat so I could cheer on walkers while I was waiting for her to show up. This year, instead of dealing with the crowds, I decided to pick a spot just outside of the cheering stations. Anytime that Trish passed me, I knew I had plenty of time before I had to go pick out another spot ahead of her, so I hung around and cheered walkers on. Here's where it changed from a job into an experience. Somewhere around the end of Day 1 or the beginning of Day 2, walkers started realizing that they were seeing me over and over again. There's that guy with the painted-up truck and the goofy pink hat. People started taking my picture and asking my name and asking why I was showing up all over the place. The smiles on their faces got a little brighter and their stride got a little brisker every time they spotted me. Don't get me wrong. I was having fun right from the start, but I realize that just by showing up with my painted-up truck and my goofy pink hat, I was adding just a little something extra to a lot of people's 3-Day experience -- and all the smiles and waves and cheers that I got added a ton to mine. So I want to say THANK YOU to all of the 3-Day walkers and staff who made the 2007 Twin Cites 3-Day such a wonderful time. I’m glad that I could be a little bright spot in your day. I had an absolute blast and you can count on seeing me again next year. I wouldn't miss it for the world. ~ Cowboy Mike, The guy in the goofy pink hat”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Arrival |Opening Ceremony | First Steps

DAY ONE – Friday, August 24, 2007
Arrival - I woke up at 3:00am to get ready for the morning, eat breakfast, a last-minute check of my gear and pack up the truck. I was on the road by 4:00am – no “normal” people were up at this time. Picked up my teammates, Angie, Deanna and Chris at Chris’ house in Inver Grove at 4:30am. Everyone looked tired, but excited to begin! We began our venture out to Coon Rapids, where opening ceremonies and the starting line resided for the 2007 Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. When we pulled up to the Anoka-Ramsey Community College the line of cars dropping off walkers was miles long and we hit the lot – jumped out, grabbed gear and GO! With all of our bags marked with our name and tent number, we dropped off our gear at our gear truck (gear truck F) and made our way to the ceremony stage. You could tell we were all a little nervous, and maybe not yet fully awake. The venture officially began as we walked into the holding area - as a team!

Opening Ceremony – Not before long, the early morning darkness faded into the light of morning. The Opening Ceremony began at 6:30, sunrise, with greetings from 3-Day staff to the walkers and crew and a wonderful speech from Jenne Fromm, the 3-Day Spokesperson, who told many stories of reason why some of the walkers were participating this year. A group stretch also took place, which was interesting to see over 2,500 hundred people crammed into a small space trying to do hamstring stretches and bending over. The ceremony untied all the walkers and crew in kicking off the amazing journey we were all about to take. During the ceremony, walkers carried in flags with words such as “hope”, “love”, “healing”, “celebrations”, “dreams”, “turning point” and “victories”. These flags were carried at previous 3-Day walks this year in Chicago, Boston, and Cleveland, and would be carried by walkers throughout the walk in the Twin Cities and following walks. They are to remind us of why we were walking. The flags made their way to the front stage as a special group of survivors gathered on the center stage. The survivors stood in a circle and raised their joined hands in the air as a sign of victory of their fight with breast cancer. All around me were people cheering and crying – it was very emotional. It would not be the last time I would see, and be a part of, cheering and crying. During the Opening Ceremony, the only news crew I saw was channel 4 and their cameras seemed to only be out before the opening ceremony started, which was really surprising that there was so little, if any, coverage.

First Steps – Shortly after 7am on Au-gust 24th, 2007 the Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-Day walk began. Over 2,500 walkers took their first steps across the starting line. We were about 50 feet from the stage, which resulted in us being in the 2nd wave of walkers released. Our team made our way to the First Step starting line and began our journey. When I crossed the starting line I felt an overwhelming wave of emotion, which increased as we passed by other walkers waiting to start their journey, giving us high-fives and cheers along the way. We also walked passed hundreds of spectators with signs supporting their friends/family but stayed until every walker passed by.

The first hour of the day was filled with amazing sights – a constant stream of women and men walking two or three abreast, uninterrupted for more than two miles. It is the only time during the whole 3- day event that every walker started the walk together. From the Anoka-Ramsey school in Coon Rapids, we made our way down Mississippi Boulevard to the trail entrance into the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. This is where I was handed the “Turning Points” flag to carry. We passed through the normally quiet suburban residential neighborhoods where families were sitting in their lawn chairs in their yards with signs, balloons and cheers for all of us walkers. Some houses where even decorated in pink the night before because the owners worked that Friday during the day. From there we continued on the trails in the park back onto Mississippi Blvd from 86th Avenue until reentering the regional trail near Redwood Street – then into “friendly” Fridley. Our team was unfamiliar with the area, which may have helped the time pass more quickly as we did not know where we were or where we were going. Most of the morning we walked along a trail that followed the Mississippi River, under a canopy of oak and elm trees. 

Keep Your Eyes Open for the Next Blog! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Short Story

With all the attention Angelina Jolie has brought to this topic I thought it timely to share the story about my first Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk experience with you through a series of blogs.

This is the first blog in my series, which is the short version of my first 3-Day Walk from 2007!

This was one of the most amazing things I have ever participated in! There were so many wonderful memories made over the 3 days we spent walking around the Twin Cities. More than 2,500 walkers participated in the 2007 Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-day walk. It began in the early morning on Friday, August 24th at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, wound through the northern suburbs and many St. Paul neighborhoods before heading into Minneapolis on Sunday where everyone would finish at Boom Island Park later that afternoon. The entire route covered 60 miles.

Day One kicked off after the emotional Opening Ceremonies, we began our exciting journey and were greeted immediately by the first of many groups of supporters – as a young family decked out in all pink cheered us on from their front yard. Pit Stop 1 kept things lively with their circus theme, complete with clowns! At our much-deserved lunch break, we were entertained by a fantastic group of Irish Celtic dancers. And then it was back on the road – continuing along the beautiful route and enjoying some amazing scenery and incredible community support.

Day Two was another day of beautiful walking weather. Supporters were out again in full force, and lots of dogs joined their owners to cheer us on! The crew kept us entertained with their costumes and themes, which included some fashionable grass skirts and shell bras, a flashback to Woodstock, and a trip down the yellow brick road. Many locals were out-side enjoying the beautiful weather – from artists painting out-doors to some great  drummers near Phalen Lake who provided a nice beat to walk to.

Day Three was a perfect end to a wonderful weekend. The end of the route was amazing and we were warmly welcomed into Holding by fellow walkers and crew members, where we relaxed for a bit and celebrated a job well done. Closing Ceremonies was packed and served as an emotional and inspiring conclusion to our journey.

Fast Facts:
•    Melissa Raised $4,300
•    DeVaan’s Divas Team Raised - $13,449
•    Melissa Walked 57 of the 60 Miles
•    2,500 Twin Cites Walkers Raised over $6.5 Million
•    1 of 20 Walkers Were Men

Here are the links to the blog series! 

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Arrival |Opening Ceremony | First Steps  

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Pit Stops | Cheering Stations | Cowboy Mike 

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Lunch | Walking Into Camp | Camp Life 

Breast Cancer 3-Day 2007 Day One Medical Tent | Dinner | Quiet Time   

Angelina Jolie’s Preventative Mastectomy Dilemma

On Tuesday, May 14th, 2013, Angelina Jolie revealed that she carries a defective BRCA1 gene that puts her at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. In February she had mastectomies followed by reconstruction with implants in April.

“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” the 37-year-old actress wrote in the New York Times.

Some breast cancer experts and advocates are giving Jolie a round of applause in the manner she explored her options and decision making. But, some doctors also are worried that her actions could be misinterpreted by other women and fueling the trend toward mastectomies that are not medically necessary for early stages of breast cancer.

Whatever side you are on, whatever your view, breast cancer has affected so many people.

With all the attention Angelina Jolie has brought to this topic I thought it timely to share the story about my first Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk experience with you through a series of blogs. As some may already know, I have been heavily involved in fundraising for many years and have participated in the 3-Day walk 3 years in a row, starting in 2007. Many photos were taken along the journey and I would love to share them with you.

Keep your eyes open for the first blog to post on Friday, May 17th!