Throughout my mom’s fight with cancer, we rarely actually used that word. It was too scary, too real. It sounded final, even though I never had any doubt this lady would kick cancer’s ass.
In the eight months my mom was sick, I really only let myself remember she had cancer when I went up to see her at NewYork-Presbyterian for chemo or when she had surgery.
Other than when she was at NYP, we were never really around other cancer patients OR survivors.
As you know if you read here, bringing awareness to causes I believe in through writing about them here or fundraising is really important to me. So I’d been looking into seeing if there was some sort of run or walk I could participate in to raise money for important ovarian cancer research — and I found the TEAL Walk. (Good thing their signature color works so well with the rest of my color palette.) TEAL stands for Tell Every Amazing Lady about the signs and symptoms.
I also really want my mom (and…everyone) to be active, so I told her she was going to do it with me and signed her up. She’s been walking a friend of hers, so I knew she could do it. And hey, if she had to bail on the walk, it wouldn’t be the first time a Blanchfield left a race in Prospect Park…
There was a little program on stage before the walk, including introducing survivors. When we walked in, there was a speaker talking about the need for better screening for detection (my mom’s was caught at Stage 3 — which is really common.) I’d hoped that the walk would both make my mom feel less alone AND strong, but as the speakers started talking, I was nervous I’d made the wrong decision. I could tell she was uncomfortable hearing about this all over again, and we took a walk.
We came back, and they were announcing the survivors. I don’t think either of us had any idea how powerful this part would be, but as women walked across the stage announcing they’d been cancer-free for 5, 10, 35 years, tears streamed down our faces as we squeezed hands.
The actual walk was 2.5 miles through Prospect Park, and it was really fun to tell my mom stories about all the races I’d run there and times I’d run with friends there. It was HOT yesterday, and it definitely wasn’t easy for either of us, but my mom pushed on through. By the time we were approaching the finish line, I spied the biggest grin spreading across her face, and the look in her eyes was full of pride and excitement.
We followed it up with brunch at the Stone Park Cafe nearby, and SHE ACTUALLY LIKED IT. Or maybe she was endorphin wasted. Unclear.
Either way, it was a beautiful day with my mom, and I know I am so so lucky to have her around. (Are you crying yet, mom?)