I have come to have a new, deeply profound appreciation for the need to maintain a healthy body. I have always struggled with my weight, meaning that I have been overweight the majority of it. I decided, about six months ago, that enough was enough. I was ready to take off the weight that I need to once and for all. So, I lost twenty pounds, am at an ideal weight for my frame, and one that is reasonable and that I will be able to maintain, and I feel so much better. I am exercising almost every day by walking, have lots more energy, and sleep better than ever before. But, besides feeling more healthy in my body, my soul feels so much healthier as well. And, I don’t think that is any coincidence. I think that when we take care of our physical health needs, it enforces in us that if one part of our human system is not being cared for, it interacts with all other aspects of the system, which throws it out of whack. I feel like I have that in hand now, and that I will never want to let go of this good feeling again.
I have always been a pretty healthy person, even with my being overweight. Except in one area; I have always had issues with my breasts. Issues, meaning, medical issues, not cosmetic issues. About sixteen years ago, I quit my job and moved to Massachusetts, needing a change in my life and the scenery. I had no health insurance. That is when I found my first lump. I knew it didn’t belong there, I have always had lumpy breasts, but this one felt very different. I was scared, but felt powerless and afraid because what could I do? How would I afford to have it taken care of?
I moved back to Pennsylvania a short time later, and got a job that provided health insurance once again. I went to the doctor, was sent to a specialist, and was told that the lump had to come out. I was thirty years old. They took it out, and I was told that it was not cancer, but it was “borderline”. For the next fifteen years, I had mammograms every six months instead of every year. I got nauseous whenever I tried to do a self exam of my breasts. I was convinced that the “C” word would eventually touch my life. It hasn’t. I thank God for that frequently.
But, six years ago, I decided to express my gratitude and my commitment to myself and others that go through this in a different way. I decided to go for a walk, and not just any walk, but more like a walk that my friend DM took over at hearttoheart. I trained for six months, and walked 60 miles in three days in Boston, Massachusetts for breast cancer. 60 miles in three days. And, it felt literally like a walk around the block. I don’t believe that it was because I trained for it; it was because of the energy involved in this endeavor.
Ubuntu was ever present.
Thousands of men and women walked, walked and walked some more around the small town areas surrounding Boston. The walk was sponsored by Avon, called the Avon Breast cancer Three Day. It was an amazing experience, to see all of the others walking along side of me, ahead of me, and behind me. To have a stranger help me on the side of the road when I turned my ankle. When we had citizens in every town lining the streets to cheer us on, to help us to keep stepping and never give up. To walk with women who were just coming off chemo, had no hair, and maybe needed some help to step some of the time. To walk on Saturday, in May of 2002, and for it to snow in Boston, so hard that they had to stop the walk for the day. To finish walking at the end of the first day, and walk through the Tent City where we were staying for the night. And, the ultimate, was entering the center of the city of Boston, and having thousands of other walkers cheering us on, clapping and crying and sharing the moment.
Ubuntu. Sharing meals, tents, showers, and dreams for a cancer free world. I will never, ever forget the impact of those days. It helped me to understand how much more difficult life is for others rather than me. It helped me to realize how connected we all really are, having some of the same struggles, same fears, and sharing the same joys and tears.
I was at that spot again not long ago; I had another lump that had to be removed. It was removed, it was not the “C” word, and this week, I got my all clear from my surgeon, and we hoped that the next time that we would run into one another, it would be at the Mall.
I feel so blessed, so lucky, so compelled to write about so many parts of my life here. I cannot explain it, it just flows. Just as my commitment to others feels so right, true, and flows freely from my soul.
Ubuntu. It has gotten me through all of my life’s moments. Not just obvious ones like this. Healthy body, healthy soul, healthy lives and futures for all of us. For, if I am healthy, my connection to my Ubuntu remains strong, remains open.
The energy feeds me, so that I may feed others….