Often, we take for granted the steps we take in our daily lives. The mundane one foot in front of the other. Unless, of course, you are a 3-Dayer.
Then your world, and those steps you take on a pink path, have a whole different meaning.
The ground beneath your feet become an anthem… a promise… a yearly reminder of why thousands of men and women (and children) join together across the nation in unity, in a vast sea of pink.
My name is Alisen Dupre and I made a promise back in 2002 to my mother, Pam Morris, when I signed up for my very first 3-Day event. My mom was diagnosed in 1997 with breast cancer at the age of 53. She had her mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction all within a year.
At the young age of 22, I was by her side and was her caregiver, (what later would be called a “co-survivor”) and saw firsthand what the disease would do to her body and her spirit. Through it all we stood strong and weathered the storm together.
A year later I moved cross country from Pennsylvania, where she lived, to California. Fast forward to February 2011. I had already walked the 3-Day seven times in California (in Los Angles & San Diego), four times in Philadelphia, once in Tampa, once in Washington, D.C. and had been a Crew Member for Camp Logistics in San Diego (2007 & 2009). I was also a part of the Nationwide Mentor program, not to mention being a walker stalker twice as well. It is a joyous time in my life, as I was three months pregnant with my son Chase!
However, life is a very delicate balancing act, and it was about to throw something my way. I got the phone call that every person dreads. My mom called me and told me that the cancer had returned. The breast cancer gene mutated and metastasized into ovarian cancer. Stage 4. Honestly, I didn’t hear much after the word “terminal”. I was able to be with my mom on two visits back East and she saw me in all my pregnant glory and felt Chase move around in my swollen belly up until my eight month. My due date was July 31st, and she lost her courageous fight July 25th. Chase arrived later than expected on August 9th. Dealing with life and death at the same time was the most humbling experience of my life.
Chase is a very special kid even now. After his birth in 2011, I walked San Diego that year with him on the route, making his walker stalker debut. He was only 4 months old. He was then known as “The Boobie Baby.” I created a special hat for him and ever since then he has been on route cheering the walkers on. He has since outgrown that little hat and has become “The TaTa Toddler.”
In 2013, I was given the extreme honor of being able to carry the “Mother” flag in San Diego, and spoke at Opening Ceremonies about why I walk. I walk so that children and grandchildren may experience life’s wonderful moments with their loved ones.
At Closing, Chase, The TaTa Toddler, was wearing a shirt I made him that read, “You Walk for The NaNa I Never Knew… Thank You” He was on stage with me in front of all the walkers, crew, family and friends, and was dancing as if it was the greatest day ever. And it WAS.
I’ve since walked in a hurricane in Philly in 2015, which was my most challenging year, but was also the most awesome event as it was my homecoming homage to my mother.
Every year Chase and I return to cheer on his beloved, “Pink Ribbon Boobie Walkers” (as he lovingly calls all the walkers). He now once again has outgrown his TaTa Toddler name and hat, and is now known as “The Boobie Boy.” He looks forward each year to going to San Diego to high five, cheer, ring his cow bell, pass out stickers, hug his friends and live in the Pink Bubble that we all have come to love so much.
This year there was a new twist to our stalker trip. One that touched me to my very core. Chase wanted to go into the Remembrance Tent and write a message to Grandma Pam. He told me he wanted to keep his message short and put it in a heart. He asked me for some spelling help and then he was done. In a big heart, in the lower left-hand corner of the tent: Chase Loves Pam.
Then he did something that neither I nor anyone within earshot I think will ever forget. He knows I carry my mom’s small urn of ashes with me on event. It’s silver with a small pink ribbon etched into the middle. “Mom, may I please have Grandma Pam’s Ashes?”
When I asked him why, he said, “I’d like to pray.”
And there he sat, with the sunlight shining behind him, holding her ashes, with eyes closed in silence. Having a moment.
This is why I walk. This is why I cannot walk away. My son and I will always be there stalking, even if I am not walking. But I, for one, will never take for granted the steps that any one of my fellow pink friends take. That is why we cheer you on all three days! The Pink Community surrounded my family in so much support during the transitional period between my mother’s passing, my son’s birth, and beyond! How could we not repay you in kind? We just love you THAT MUCH!!!
We love you with all our hearts.
Alisen Dupre and Chase aka “Boobie Boy” Dupre