Monday, July 27, 2009

The 2009 3-Day

It was another busy, crazy, insane weekend.

Martha and I spent 3 days (actually 4-plus if you include the training day) working the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day walk this past weekend. For those of you who may remember, Martha walked last year and I worked on the medical crew, and I wrote about it here.

This year’s experiences were not much different than last year’s. But having had the opportunity of a year under my belt and a different venue to work in, I have some observations I think are worth sharing, mainly because I’m aware of much more than I was the first time.

Probably the most significant thing I can talk about is the volume of people. While there were less people walking this year – approximately 1600 compared to about 2000 walkers last year – the number of people who needed medical help simply by volume was higher because of the weather conditions we were working under. Day 1 consisted of lots of rain. Probably more than I think anyone expected. And we had numbers of people who suffered from mild hypothermia and exposure. Day 2 was sunny, bright, and really warm. That brought us walkers who had similar problems manifested in different ways. Day 3 was a mixed bag; mostly clear with showers in the morning and humidity throughout. And we saw a lot of walkers who were just hurting. Our sports medicine people (physical therapists and athletic trainers) saw a lot of this sort of thing.

We had some logistical problems related to supplies that were worse this year than last. On Day 2 we were starting to run out of things that we needed. Like needles to lance blisters with. Tape. IV start kits. The basics.

With all of this said, one thing that I can say with supreme confidence is that every person who worked on the crew without exception did an incredible, awesome job. I’ve said it before, but it’s a privilege to work with some outstanding professionals. Everyone’s efforts, for lack of a better word, were heroic. Almost as much as the walkers we were there to serve.

And it wasn’t just the medical crew. Everyone else, from the folks who fed us and kept the porta-johns stocked with toilet paper to the people who were on the road safety team to the kids in the youth corps, were tremendous. Nobody bitched, complained, or whined. Everyone did what needed to be done.

And there are people who I won’t forget anytime soon. Here are some of them: my new friend BJ who was in charge at Pit 1 where Martha and I were assigned. The young lady who is a survivor dealing with a recurrence and undergoing chemotherapy – she needed to be treated by us for a fever, a bad thing to have happen because of immuno-compromise. The gentleman who wouldn’t be kept down in spite of ankles who were quitting on him. He was put on medical hold and still weaseled his way back on the route on the last day. Not a smart thing to do (in fact, it was really, really stupid), but it was ballsy.

He inspired me considerably, and his determination made me think of Rocky Balboa. I know – of all people I should think of him. In the movie of the same name, he told his son that “it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”

For any woman (or man – yes, we can get it, too) who has to fight breast cancer, this is what it’s all about.

Will I do it again? Absolutely. For as long as I am able to.

Here are some images of the events of the weekend. Please pardon the quality of some of them; I took the photos with my mobile phone.

  day 1 pit 1 walkersbj and the ladiesagony of the feet day 3 tired walker  3day closing 2009 1day 1 martha with ears energizer bunny portapotties day 3 pit 4 food 3day closing 2009 2

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Walter, That's a pretty good description of a very long weekend. As medical I think we get about the least amount of sleep and need to be on our toes for all of the walkers making sure eveeryone makes it to the finish, and I agree I give a lot of courage to Grorge (Men with Heart) Red Carded and still kept walking when he finally was sent by med transport he rated his pain 8out of 10 but still wanted to walk!!
See you next year.
Kathryn

Allison said...

Walter and Martha,
It's people like you who makes the 3-Day so successful. All of the Crew worked so hard because we all belived in the CURE! Without the Crew and
walkers we would never have made it this far in discovering NEW treatment protocols with less dibilitating side effects. As the Medical Captain and a Suvivor,

THANK YOU!!

Allison

Karen Brook Westhaver said...

So there really WAS an "Energizer Bunny" :-) Great pictures, too, to add additional dimension to illustrate an already wonderful post. I'm so glad you and Martha got to work as a team in the medical crew...also a little time away together. Thank you for sharing some of the inspiration from this year's 3-Day. It goes FAR deeper than the brief notes on TV.

Anonymous said...

Walter this was my 4th 3 Day as Medical Crew and every year my Journey is filled with inspiration from the walkers. Every year it has rained at least one day or a part of the day and we call these tears from heaven. It is my pleasure to spend these 3 days with people who never complain, walk even though tired and hurting. They never give up and neither will I. I intend to do it until I can't anymore and I do hope that day never comes. It is truly my pleasure to work with all the Medical Crew they ROCK. Next year we have decided to buy at least 4 dozen pair of socks the 2 dozen went fast again this year. Our Pit is also thinking of getting some flip flops for those who need them on day three. Anything to help get them over the finish line. God bless them all

Anonymous said...

Walter, This was my first time on the Med Team and it won't be my last. I met some amazing people, not only walkers but, volunteers. I will never forget the sea of pink pop-up tents (or porto-potties :) Your description was perfect and your pics were great also. Everyone take care
See you next year!