With a Strong Voice

red ink…

Earlier this week I heard an interview with a TV news anchor who talked about her double mastectomy in what I thought at the time were the starkest terms. She said “Look, I loved my breasts, they were a part of me growing into a woman and nursing my children, until they tried to kill me, and then they had to go…”

Now that, it struck me, is the voice of a survivor! I was honored to be in the presence of thousands of them today at the 20th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Phoenix, each with their own story – each with their own unique voice.

Standing at the kickoff at sunrise this morning listening to Pink ink share her story as one of the Grand Marshall’s of the race, I was hearing Beyonce’s “I’m a survivor…I’m not gon’ give up…” in my head. (I’m a B fan. Her music is my “Rocky” inspiration when I run.) Barb was loud and strong today as she looked this damned disease in the face and in her own way said a resounding “NO!” for every one of the survivors gathered – no, they would not stop fighting, no they would not lay down or stay down, no they would not stop living, and loving and smiling and laughing and sharing and believing in their power to find a cure – with their resolve to BE THE CURE.

The faces I looked into were old and young, male and female, speaking many different languages, pushing strollers, and walking with canes all into the Arizona sun with the mountains at their back. I felt truly hopeful as we all joined forces with survivors to start the walk. A nice surprise was when we were joined by Miss Black Arizona, an undergraduate journalism major at Arizona State University, who learned about Team Pinkwell Chick online and just wanted to be a part of us!

It was especially great for me to match faces with the now familiar voices of people who have become family on team Pinkwell Chick this year. I will always be grateful to Barb’s cancer mentor Tracey who has been there every step of the way and snuck a call post-op just to let her hear my voice. Embracing her and her family, and walking together in the race, made the occasion even more special.

Listening on as Barb and Lil B were interviewed by Channel 12 near the finish line, and hearing both of them talk eloquently about their ongoing commitment to breast cancer awareness dating back well before Barb’s diagnosis (this was their 10th race together), I knew that no matter how tough this year has been (and it has been tough), they are tougher! I love that they have not been silenced by this enemy, but their voices have grown stronger. Pink ink really has become kind of a local celebrity’s with glossy spreads in magazines, tv interviews and fashion shows all in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer.

We were all exhausted afterwards, especially Pink Ink who looked like she had finally exhaled, and retired 16 strong to LoLo’s for some chicken and waffles before the members of Team Pinkwell Chick started our respective journeys home.

As we were settling up, an older lady – her name was Millie and she was there in the restaurant with just her husband – came up to me noticing my shirt and our crowd. I told her that we were there to support my lil sis who had been diagnosed a year before. She told me that she had been diagnosed last year too and had been through surgery to remove multiple lymph nodes that had left her with swelling in one arm that she was still trying to resolve, but “Hey” Millie said with a big smile and strong voice, “I’m still here…”

You sure are Millie, and so is my girl!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. JC Ellis
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 15:09:19

    Nice post, red ink!


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