Outside the Pink Tent

A walker takes down her tent on the Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day®.

A walker takes down her tent on the Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day®.

After yesterday’s hot weather that had so many walkers finding water at new, makeshift stops, this morning’s mood was calm with a hint of satisfaction. I moved through camp as I have for the last few days, somewhere between a visitor and a photographer. My position in relation to the walkers is one of allowance. They permit me there, possibly so they can get a photograph in the slideshows or possibly because they want to feel like someone from the “outside” has seen them amid hundreds of others, someone unique in a sea of so many similar stories. But of course, they are unique, and the uniqueness of each story — every one — is overwhelming to someone who is invited to listen to them and watch their movement of 60 miles by foot over three days.

A Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day® walker suits up in her tent on the last day

A Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day® walker suits up in her tent on the last day.

I am grateful for it, and admittedly, we are both exposed. The walkers to the elements, to each other, and most difficult sometimes, to the camera. I find myself exposed as well. I wear the dark grays and blacks of a staff member; they wear pinks. I am a man; a large percentage of them are women. I am not often walking with them; they are pushing up hills in 95 degree weather. I stand out and I am identified by most on Day 3 as a photographer. There is no hiding. My movement around their tents, around the only sacred space for three days, leaves me careful with the camera and whom I approach. It’s a delicate balance with those who want to talk more this morning and those who are quiet, and anticipating the long journey into the heart of Boston, the final destination of this powerful movement of people.

The Tent Sentiment – Sunday Morning

A Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day® walker packs up her tent

A Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day walker packs up her tent.

A few remarks from the walkers this morning as they broke down the pink tents, readied feet with moleskin, and packed up from camp:

“Always feel like we come home with more than we came with.”  “Mother Vegas”, Beth Caron, Las Vegas, Nevada

“Tough!  I’m exhausted.  Excited to be done. Accomplished!”  Jennifer Rosado

“Relief! Pain! Anticipation.”  Isabel Guillen, Claremont, New Hampshire

“Awesome! Part of me is ready to be done…part is ready to be here forever with the pink people.”   Abbie Vicknair, Nashville, Tennessee

“I feel fantastic!  Ready for Cleveland!”   Carl Benson, Wolcott, Connecticut

“I’m good.  Awesome.  Life is good.  Let’s go!”  Nealie Cirino, Wallingford, Connecticut

The mood is picking up as the walkers feel that today will be the end of their Susan G. Komen 3-Day® journey.  They will travel many miles today through Harvard and MIT universities, through Boston Commons and the Financial District before turning south along the beaches to the Closing Ceremony.

Go walkers!

Pink flowers adorn a walker's tent on the Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day®.

Pink flowers adorn a walker’s tent on the Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day.

First-timers on the Boston 3-Day

Everyone give a warm welcome to Cyndi, Sandy and Denise!

Cyndi Whitehead, Sandy Haynes, and Denise Vaudrin during lunch on the Boston 3-Day.

Cyndi Whitehead, Sandy Haynes, and Denise Vaudrin during lunch on the Boston 3-Day.

When Cyndi Whitehouse of Springfield, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with breast cancer 30 years ago, she probably could not foresee July 26, 2013 as her first day on a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series with sister Sandy Haynes and good friend Denise Vaudrin! Here they are, and being with them even for a few minutes at lunch gave me the sense of their great love for each other and of life.  Cyndi asked her sister and friend to walk with her, and they gladly said, “Yes!”

How did they remember their first day? “Ouch!” They recommend a lot of training to prepare walkers for the long days.  They also had some great ideas for fundraising, as they had a local vineyard hold a wine tasting, complete with a relabeled wine “Poppy’s Girls” (named after the sisters’ father).  It sounded like a great evening with everyone happy and interested in breast cancer research and finding a cure.

"Poppies" is a relabeled wine served for fundraising for the Boston 3-Day®

“Poppy’s Girls” is a relabeled wine served for fundraising for the Boston 3-Day®

It’s wonderful to hear that Cyndi has been doing well for 30 years! Welcome to your first Komen 3-Day, Cyndi, Sandy, and Denise!