As most of you know by now, I attended the AIM for a Cure Melanoma Walk in Charlotte, NC this weekend. What you probably don’t know is that I hadn’t officially decided until about 7am Friday morning. I kept second guessing myself. I knew it would cost quite a bit of money to rent a car, stay at the hotel, and pay for gas. I thought maybe I was being selfish and should just donate that money instead. But I wanted to go, because I learned about fellow bloggers and tweeters that were going. People who have encouraged, inspired, and supported me in these last 2 months without even knowing me.
When I woke up Friday morning, I was exhausted and still doubting whether I should go. Everyone else was telling me I should, but they didn’t have to do this trip in less than 2 days, driving 8 hours there and then back. So, while in the shower, I spoke to God. This is where I normally do it, since I never have quiet time to myself. I asked Him to give me a feeling of certainty either way. Then I said, “Tell me why I should go.” And, in my own voice I heard, “Because you can.”
That was it. Because I can. Because two weeks ago I was afraid I would be recovering from a neck dissection at this time and wouldn’t be able to walk. Because I can. Because there are many warriors who are undergoing treatment and couldn’t physically make it through the walk. Because I can. Because I was able to meet and walk with a mom who lost her daughter in April to melanoma. Her daughter couldn’t walk, but I could.
So without any more thoughts, I proceeded to go pick up my rental car, pick up my mom, and of course, make a Starbucks trip before we left.
When we arrived at 8:30 pm, we were tired and hungry. I was not in the mood to venture out again, so we ordered some room service. Then I got in touch with one of my favorite tweeters, Tara, who lost her husband to melanoma and her wonderful boyfriend,Tim, who also lost his sister to melanoma. These are two great people with a great love story.
Then we met up with the beautiful Chelsea, her sister Cara, and her mom and step-dad. Her mom was walking out of the bar with a Kahlua and coffee, so I knew immediately that these were good people. Chelsea is somewhat of a “celebrity” in the melanoma community. She is “25, a want-to-be Carrie Bradshaw, (and) a Stage III Melanoma Diva.” Chelsea hasn’t let melanoma destroy her life. Instead, she is doing her best to destroy melanoma.
Me, Tara, and Chelsea
Tara F., Chelsea, Donna, me, Tara W.
I met quite a few melanoma warriors and caregivers. I must tell you, SO many of them are just wonderful people!! It’s been a long time since I’ve met people that I clicked with instantly and with whom I hope to stay lifelong friends.
At 8am on Saturday, I joined hundreds of people at the very beautiful Freedom Park. It was 35 degrees, with the wind-chill making it feel like 29, but this Florida girl bundled up and got a move on. The walk began with wonderful tributes to people who have passed away due to melanoma. It was definitely sad to listen to, but as I looked around I saw many different groups of people, wearing shirts they made, and it encouraged me. We are fighting this. I am not in this alone.
My mom and I
The duck pond we walked around in Freedom Park
Me, Jean Schlipmann, and Timna from Respect the Rays
Me, Jean Schlipmann, and Timna from Respect the Rays
My mom and I again in front of my favorite tree in the park!
The family of Mary Moxham Soffera with their LOL shirts that stand for Lots of Love
More supportive shirts- I run for my Mommy
We wrapped up the walk with some bagels, Starbucks coffee, and lots of info about skin cancer. I even bought my kids some SPF umbrella hats from UV Skinz, which they love!
It was truly a great weekend, and not even a speeding ticket on the way home could make me regret going. I spent the drive home thinking about all the wonderful things I would like to do locally and in my home town to spread melanoma awareness. I thought of many more blog ideas to share with all of you. I also thought about all the trips I will be planning in the future to walk with my friends- new and old.
As always, I also learned a lot about myself and life from this trip. So I thought I’d share some insights with you ;):
I don’t like driving in new places at night, because I can never see the street signs to find their names.
There are no left turn signals when you take exit at 5 on 77 in South Carolina. So be ready to wait. For. A .While.
It’s very important to read how many miles to drive before getting off at the exit (just because it’s exit 5, doesn’t mean it’s the RIGHT exit 5)
I CANNOT listen to any Luke songs while trying to find my way back to the highway. Two of them came on in the 20 minutes I was lost, and my stress meter rose. Ludacris and Dr. Dre, on the other hand, were quite calming. Don’t Uncle Luke and drive. It’s not good.
I shouldn’t get caught speeding with my mom. She’s my mom. She WILL try to tell the cop why he shouldn’t be pulling me over.
There are many beautiful people in the melanoma awareness community. Not just gorgeous on the outside, but so beautiful from the inside.
It’s never too late in life to make great friends.
Fried pickle spears are GOOOOOOOOOD.
Charlotte is a pretty gorgeous place.
When driving a Mustang in GA- DO THE SPEED LIMIT.
Finally, when you want to do something in life, DO IT! No excuses. No fear. Do it!