Three days is a small step in fighting Breast CancerBY DEANNA HAVILAND-CHAPMAN One woman’s life changing journey Deanna Haviland-Chapman shares her story of strength and determination to finish the 3 - day Walk so that others can win their fight against this life changing disease. Editor
I had no idea what the last three days had in store for me and I am not sure if anything could have prepared me for it! I know I can’t sum up my experience into a nutshell but if I had to put it in one word it would be “hopeful”.
I wasn’t really sure why I felt so compelled to do the 3-Day Walk, both my best friend’s moms are survivors. I’ve had great aunts, friends of family, etc. that have been touched by breast cancer...but no one directly. I guess I just wanted to keep it that way.
When I got there the very first day and witnessed opening ceremonies, I realized I was there, I was compelled to walk for EVERYONE. No one is safe from breast cancer. It affects men, women, old, young, rich, poor, NO ONE is safe from it.
As I watched people form the “Circle of Hope” and watched the tears of survivors and loved ones, I knew that this walk was so much bigger than anything I imagined it would be.
Our day began at Bellevue Community College, with absolutely no sleep, and took us 20 plus miles through Bellevue ending in Redmond at Marymoore Park.
I somehow imagined us walking down the streets stopping traffic, instead I found us walking on tiny sidewalks trapped between walkers in front and in back with annoyed traffic flying by.
The first few miles and most all of the first day was down hill, which my knees did not tolerate at all. The pounding, stopping, going...my knee hyper extended in the third mile of the first day. I knew it was going to take everything in me to just power it out and finish the day alive.
I never looked back and choked down a lot of tears and if it weren’t for teammates and a woman on crutches doing the walk, I may have thrown in the towel.
When I got to the finish line, instead of rest it was just more walking back and forth to set up tents and get our gear.
My husband Andy ended up picking me up and taking me home while I vomited from pain. I was so fatigued from lack of sleep I couldn’t even keep my head up. Andy had to help carry me in the house and explained to me there was “no way in hell” I would be going back.
I called my trainer, my massage therapist, anyone I thought might have a plan to keep me going, they knew better than to tell me to quit.
After three hours of sleep I drove myself back to camp. I knew after witnessing the woman on crutches cross the finish line there was “no way in hell” I was going to quit. Geared up, wearing a knee brace and Ace Bandage I set out for day two.
I told my teammates to let me fall behind and if I needed to I would sweep (they have vans that will take you to the next pit stop if you can’t make it). Of course, my teammates wouldn’t have it and stuck with me encouraging me the whole way.
Each step I took brought tears and as we journeyed, it seemed as though the down hill would never end. I finally had to cave and ride the sweep van one mile down a steep hill for fear I wouldn’t walk day three if I didn’t.
All the family, friends, survivors, strangers, kids that came out to cheer us on made every step that much easier. It’s amazing the cars honking, waving, cheering, it’s hard to explain the pride you feel in walking and honor you feel in helping people.
By the end of day two I really couldn’t imagine myself being able to walk day three. I put all the braces, bandages, and whatnots in all the right places and boarded the buses with my new friends and off to Seattle we went.
We laughed, cheered and psyched ourselves out for the last day. As we walked through the University of Washington it was beautiful and peaceful.
When we got to the streets it was Rush for the sororities. We watched as hundreds of girls flooded the houses and streets cheering and in the back of our minds we were all thinking, one out of eight of you will be affected by breast cancer.
It was a very eerie feeling as we made our way through the streets and towards Greenlake.
I love that place and there was definitely some strong emotion getting there and walking through the crowds of supporters. Seeing women thanking us because they are survivors, children handing us suckers and high fiving us, people spraying us with water to keep us cool, and even the guy dressed in scrubs offering free exams, it was overwhelming.
The hills got steeper and I had to do them backwards but my trusty teammates once again guided my way and we all made it together, through Wallingford, downtown to the waterfront, and back up to Memorial Stadium.
The greatest moment by far that day was having the honor of carrying the Flag of Hope.
The stories I heard, the lives that touched memen walking in memory of their wives, men walking hand-in-hand with their wives who are survivors, grandfathers walking with granddaughters, boys walking for their mother’s memory, sisters, mother and daughters, best friends, women five weeks out of chemo, women walking just becauseit is an experience that will never be forgotten.
There was a couple in their 70’s walking hand-in-hand the whole way. Her shirt read “survivor” his “fighter”.
The teams, their spirits, their laughter, their tears, the joy and the pain of it. The “Rump Shakers, Milk Makers”, the “Lovely Lady Lumps”, the “Ta-Ta Sisterhood”, the “Six Sets of Jugs a Jiggling”, the “Seven Breast Friends”, and of course us, team “Check Your Boobies” once a month.
Each step I took felt like it would be my last, one more and my knee would bust out of my body, but then I would take 500 more steps and see these people’s faces and hear their amazing stories of survival and hope, and I would fight the tears to keep going.
Nothing short of hope, my teammates, and ok, a lot of Percocet and Biofreeze, got me through the last day and across that finish line.
A woman said to me as I hobbled along, that her yoga instructor told her that pain is just a form of energy. I know my “energy” level was a 15 out of 10 in my knees, but just like the bunny, I kept going and going along with everyone else.
There were women crying from blisters on their feet, pain in their arches, heat exhaustion. Even the men struggled with 60 miles...it is quite a feat.
I can’t even begin to explain what that moment was like crossing the finish line, coming down to Seattle Center and then out on Memorial Stadium Field. To have that many people cheering for you and knowing that you really did it.
I am excited to say Seattle raised $8.1 million.
I think everyone should experience the 3-Day at least once in their life. I have decided it will be at least twice for me. I am already registering for next year!
Havliand-Chapman is preparing to walk again next year and is looking for sponsors. If you would like to sponsor her please visit www.the3day.org and search for her name.