Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spreading the Bright Pink Message

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

Today when I was getting ready to leave work I briefly checked Facebook to view a message from a friend, and happened to see an update from Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure on my mini feed. While I haven’t gotten to read the full post yet, I noticed that it was sharing a link to another walker’s blog, and the topic of that blog was along the lines of how to deal with our training schedule when life gets off schedule. I am looking forward to reading that post after I write this one because it’ll probably give me some good advice regarding how to move forward after last week.

Last week my life got a little off schedule. Until now I have adjusted well to the training schedule. I know that I am dedicated on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and Saturday and Sunday mornings, to training walks for the 3-Day. I have creatively rearranged all of my other commitments, chores, etc. to accommodate this, and so far it has worked very well. However, last week it didn’t work. I was scheduled for some medical tests last Thursday that put me out of commission Tuesday evening through Friday morning, and then I spent a wonderful weekend in Knoxville with Mandie to start planning her wedding. To get to the short and sweet of it, I didn’t get my miles in last week.

On Monday I texted Jenn L. to let her know that I was concerned about having to write a blog that evening given that I didn’t have anything to report on. I have little mileage to show for myself, which means no inspirational or funny training stories to share. Her response was, “Did you talk about the walk?” and wondered if I might be able to talk about spreading awareness. Good idea! That, I can do.

Spreading the Bright Pink Message
I am blessed to have a far-reaching network of friends, family, and colleagues that support me in every way and are interested in what I do. Many of my close friends and my current coworkers were familiar with what last week was going to do to my schedule. It was inspiring to me that 4 of my coworkers asked me how I was going to alter my training schedule to fit in my walks. They didn’t care that I was going to be missing 2 full days of work; instead they cared about my ability to meet my goal. They cheered me along in doing what I needed to do to feel better and walk the miles that I could. It just so happened that other colleagues and students were around when my coworkers asked me about my walking schedule which solicited the question, “What are you walking for?” I got to share my story of training for the 3-Day along with the reasons why I walk, which prompted many colleagues and students to share the impact that breast cancer has had on their lives. Through those conversations I got to spread my bright pink message: When there is a cure, we’ll celebrate. Till then, whenever I can, I will walk for those who can’t.

Over the weekend I visited Mandie in Knoxville to help her begin planning her and Patrick’s wedding. (You probably remember from previous posts that I am her Maid of Honor.) We spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday trying on wedding gowns, visiting potential wedding and reception sites, and trying on MOH dresses. It was a blast - and I did get a little walking in! (Though I forgot my pedometer at her dad’s house … oops!) The best part of the weekend was that I got to meet a LOT of Mandie’s extended family. Mandie was rolling with a LARGE entourage - include mother, stepmother, mother of the groom, sister of the groom, niece, and lifelong friend. It was great to meet all of these special women who I am certain I will be spending a lot of time with over the next year, and there were many moments where I got to spread the bright pink message - between dresses, during lunch, and around the dinner table. Many of them, like Mandie, have been impacted by breast cancer in some way, and now they know that I am walking so one day they’ll never have to feel its impact again.

I got to quietly spread the message last week as well, and think it’s important to realize that some of the strongest messages are the quiet ones. Just after signing up for the 3-Day my dad bought me a t-shirt (the cost of which went to breast cancer research). It is brown, and written in pink on the front it reads “fight like a girl” with an awareness/remembrance ribbon. I must admit that the phrase has taken on new meaning for me. As a kid and teen I hated that phrase. I suppose the feminist in me thought it insinuated a negative connotation. We all know that many boys and men will taunt one another with references to the opposite sex. “You throw like a girl!” “You hit like a girl!” “You scream like a girl!” These were phrases no boy/man ever wanted to hear. But now, I proudly wear that t-shirt my dad bought me, because now it symbolizes strength. Over the course of the last few months I have heard countless stories of women who have fought the fight, and many who have “won” the battle. There is nothing small, sissy, insignificant, or negative about that. Those women, even those who have passed, are/were strong, and many fought the fight with a perpetual smile on their face and passion in their hearts. I wore that t-shirt last week for the few miles that I walked, and it was interesting how many more glances came my way. I had to wonder what those people assumed about me. That I had cancer? That I survived cancer? That I lost a mother or sister to cancer? That I just simply supported the cause? Whatever they thought about me, I didn’t care; the fact is they thought about me, and they thought about breast cancer, and they thought about another bright pink message: that we can all fight like girls.

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
While I am sad to report that I didn’t complete my miles last week, I am VERY HAPPY to report that together, we have surpassed my fundraising goal! Yes, I say together; because without all of you, reaching that goal would not have been possible. Two donations came in this past week to help me surpass my goal. Ashley Callaway is a friend from Purdue, and Jennifer (Lonowski) Strickland is my cousin (her donation was the one to put me over the edge). Together we have raised $2,303.25! Team NKOTW has collectively raised $5,505.25, which is 27% of our total goal.

For those who are able, I encourage you to continue donating. Just because we have reached my goal does not mean our support should end; that support will lead to the cure for breast cancer. You can continue to donate to my personal page: However, I also encourage you to support my teammates in reaching their goals - after all, all the money is going to the same pot and we all want to succeed. From here on out I will select a teammate to support each week. This week, let’s support my fellow newbie Katie (Lynch) Holmes.

In honor of raising awareness last week, I’d also like to bring to your attention how you can support two more friends who are spreading their own bright pink messages and fighting for a world without breast cancer.

Kati (Bennett) Petry and I grew up together and were close friends in middle school and high school. I am walking in memory of her mother. Kati is an AVID and ACCOMPLISHED runner (she made it to the Boston Marathon this year - very prestigious!). This October, just before Team NKOTW participates in the 3-Day for the Cure, Kati will run the 2010 Chicago Marathon in support of the Susan G. Komen Marathon for the Cure charity team. Please consider supporting Kati in her efforts. You can find out more about her race and donate to her cause at:

Kassandra Gove and I were in the same cohort in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) Master’s program at the University of South Carolina. Kassandra will be participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Boston one month from today - on July 23. Please consider supporting Kassandra in her efforts. You can learn more about her and donate to her cause by clicking here.

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
In support of raising awareness … did you know that there are many corporate sponsors affiliated with the Susan G. Komen foundation? These partners not only make a financial contribution, but also find ways to engage customers in utilizing their products or services to raise awareness and/or funds toward a cure. For a list of corporate sponsors and information on the product/services that support the Susan G. Komen foundation, visit

The Numbers
While I did walk some over the weekend with Mandie, I did not have my pedometer to officially record my miles and steps. Therefore, I officially have on record 1.28 miles and 3,710 steps for last week. That brings my training totals to 75.61 miles and 218,498 steps.

Remember that there is no support that goes unnoticed, and that support comes in many shapes and sizes. Even if you cannot financially contribute to my Team NKOTW teammates, Kati, Kassandra, or me, you can help our cause. Consider sending my teammates, Kati, and Kassandra your best wishes, and when you are talking with friends, family, and colleagues this week, spread your own bright pink message. Awareness = success. Together we will find a cure!


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