The MS walk for me at least had always been a time of fellowship and fun for the children. There were also typically new medications being shared and information for participants. Over the past few years the walk has been less exciting with fewer activities and fewer vendors. This year the walk took place on the same day as two other events and on a rather dreary day.
Though I was very excited to reunite with my team I realized that I had not seen my friend having a flare up in a while and was unprepared for it. I had been communicating with her over the months leading up to the race and she never mentioned her health status. Her mother informed me of just how it had been going for her and I was very shocked. Basically I had been hoping that regardless of what I knew of the disease process that it would totally skip my friend. So I spent the day being slapped in the face by my friend's mortality. As I watched her be unable to walk the entire route due to a flare up and an injured ankle, then being helped across the finish line by her husband and mother I almost cried.
Denial is such a beautiful liar. As long as I no longer see my friend every day at work and do not have to see the waxes and wanes of the disease being handled by her medication and body, I can pretend that she is doing fine. In my dream world she is not having anymore flare ups and in fact the disease is deciding to leave her alone all together.
Reality though is a mean slap in the face of hard work. My friend is fighting the disease every day. She is pushing through the pain and limitations to raise her two children and enjoy life with her husband. She is negotiating high drug prices and suffering if there is a fluctuation that requires her to go without. She is actively raising funds and advocating for a cure not just for herself but for those she has met with MS and those she will never meet. She is setting a wonderful example for her little girls of what a strong woman looks like and what she does.
So while I was feeling sad for my friend and sorry for myself I was missing the whole point. A dreary day and a small turnout does not diminish the hard work that we all did to raise funds and raise awareness. Every day we raise funds, post on Facebook, and tell our friends/coworkers about the event there is that much more of a chance that a new person will become invested in our cause.
Here is a short video of the walk
Below are a few photos that represent the walk for me.
|I wore this every day until the walk as a reminder|
|The reason I walk|