Barely made our scheduled rendezvous with the Merry Crazies: 6:00 A.M., Kroger parking lot, Bluff and Southport Roads. Fitful night’s sleep.
The Merry Crazies, founded by Crazy Betsy, is an eclectic group of buddies joined by the journey of breast cancer, that functions as a “non-support group” support group. This being my inaugural walk in the survivor parade at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, it was imperative that I complete this Odyssey surrounded by them.
Not having any idea of what to expect, the sheer number of people was daunting. Like over 50,000. Considering that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer, there is hardly a family that hasn’t been “touched” by the disease.
Although the mass of the crowd was what initially impressed me, it was the spirit of the crowd that was my lasting impression. Energy. Celebration. Hope. Perhaps the highlight was the sense of humor. Let’s face it here folks, we’re talking boobies! Who doesn’t love a good boob joke? I’m actually proud to be a member of a group who can who can entertain a laugh while raising millions to combat a disease that has killed our sisters! There was the woman in the pink “bra hat,” the family, heads adorned with Viking horns and the sign that read “our survivor is a tough Polish Viking,” the multiple T-shirt messages: “Miles for the Melons” and “Save the Ta Ta’s.” There was the guy whose T-shirt read “I love boobs” on the front and “Don’t you?” on the back. My personal favorite was one that took me a bit to figure out: Army green t-shirts, “Fight for the war on my rack.” Love a good pun, don’t you?
One can’t ignore the juxtaposition inherent in the message of tough fighters and the soft color of pink. But isn’t that the story of women? Tough/soft. Fight/nurture. War/love. It’s who we are. We are a living, breathing oxymoron. Not that women own this disease, certainly men face the challenge too, however, we identify it with women and their breasts, a topic ne’er ignored by our society.
I count it a major victory knowing that the 50 year survivors, the women who led our survivor parade, suffered in silence, embarrassed to say “breast cancer” in public and often hid their disease, and yet yesterday, survivors and co-survivors proudly displayed bras on their heads and relished in the humor surrounding one of our favorite body parts–boobs. I call that progress. Positive evolution.
When we think about it, God designed the female anatomy so that the first bit of sustenance a baby receives comes from where? The boob. What do young girls suffering through puberty often obsess about? Boobs. Are they growing? Showing? Overflowing? What do pubescent boys obsess over? You guessed it–boobs. In fact, it has been my experience that many a men and women never outgrow this particular obsession. Never been with a group of women in my life that the conversation didn’t eventually work its way around to boobs. And men . . . nuff said.
Anyway, how dare this nasty, killer disease attack our boobs! From what I saw yesterday, in huge numbers, and with great force, we’re fighting back.
Amongst the frivolity and hope of the day, opportunities for tears and reflection were not lacking. My Merry Crazies paused for one, teary, group hug as the survivor parade came to a halt. As BF and I walked the 5K, we witnessed many families walking in memory of moms, sisters, aunts; I had placed a white flag at the finish line in memory of my own big sister, stolen from our family by this disease. I’m surrounded by so many strong women who have treated breast cancer and gone on with life, that sometimes I forget how many women it kills.
One image that haunts me from yesterday was a young girl, probably about 13, walking with her extended family, attached to her back was a laminated, 8 X 10 photo of a beautiful, smiling young woman “In Memory (name) Mom.” I saw the family several times throughout the day, but near the end of the race the young girl put her arms around her grandma’s neck and lay her head on her shoulder. Grandma patted her and asked “Are you tired honey?” I was overwhelmed with the realization of how that little girl needed her mommy. I just thank God for that Grandma.
Emotionally exhausted, loaded down like a bunch of conventioneers–flags, totes crammed full of pink freebies–four Merry Crazies, flanked by family, friends and the best BF ever, walked (much slower now) to our cars. It wasn’t quite noon yet and we had lived a full day.
For a girl who typically resists involvement in large organizations, bandwagons, and certainly theme dressing, I was sorely impressed by the outpouring of support for the women who have had, and those who have yet to wage their own personal war against this disease.
Stay tuned as the Merry Crazies are walking next year in vintage, pink prom dresses, complete with our tiaras. Goodwill, here we come!