It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you commit to doing the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, an event that takes place in cities across Canada each year. In the months ahead of the big date, your aim is to both raise the required money ($2,000 minimum for the 2-day walk, $1,200 for the 1-day option, which not every city offers), and to practise long-distance walking to get your body used to the endurance test. (Nice bonus: walking burns about 250 calories an hour). Then, in the days just before the event, the nerves set in: What if I twist my ankle and can’t go on? What if my low-back plays up? What if it rains and I have to walk in soaking wet shoes? What if I sleep through my alarm and miss the start? All kinds of stressors go through your head, particularly the night before.
Then you arrive at the starting area promptly at 7:30am, and you see the masses of other women and men that are aiming for the same goal, and you relax a little. You even feel a little bit guilty that you had any doubts at your own physical ability when so many of the other participants have just won a battle with cancer or are walking for someone they have lost to the disease.
In our case, the Best Health team this year had five participants in Toronto walk. We were thrilled to hear the announcement, before setting off on Saturday morning, that the funds raised by the event topped $10.8 million! There were around 4,700 walkers who contributed to that, and it was an incredible feeling. Now all we had to do was walk. And it did get tough starting around 4 hours into what turned out to be a 7-hour walk, when aches, pains and blisters set in.
But there was plenty of encouragement along the way, both among our own group and other walkers, by the volunteers, and by residents lining the streets we walked’they handed out lemonade, candy, fruit and even beer while cheering us on.
Other things that encouraged us? Best Health team member Margaret Nearing, over to you:
“Two things that stuck with me were walking by the Princess Margaret Hospital and seeing Dr. Tak Mak, one of the world’s leading cancer researchers. It was a reminder that the money would be put to such good use by a very dedicated and enthusiastic research team. And, on a more emotional note, seeing women walking with "survivor" t-shirts or photographs of loved ones taped to their backs, was such a powerful reminder of what a personal fight cancer is for so many women and their families.”
For an outline of all the advances made in women’s cancer research, see the article that appeared in the September issue of Best Health magazine, on newsstands now, in which we interviewed Dr. Mak. It’s a reminder that any fundraising we do really does help in the fight against cancer. It’s on page 73.
Did you participate in a cancer fundraiser event this year? Tell us all about it!
In the photo (from left): Best Health Editor-in-chief Bonnie Munday, advertising account manager Lori Fitzgerald, associate publisher Michelle Kellner, senior editor Margaret Nearing and senior content editor Jennifer Walker