The event provides a stage to honor my extraordinary survival—and everyone who has played a role in it. The public display, like an annual booster shot, immunizes me from taking any of it for granted.
If I'm in treatment, walking is a way to defy physical weakness and thumb my nose at scary statistics. I imagine that if I expected an event to be my last, I'd walk to defiantly show the world “I can do this” and to reassure myself I'm still here.
It's hard to describe the feeling of still being here, relatively healthy, after losing so many co-survivors. The faces of my cherished friends who died may not be on t-shirts, but their voices still echo in my head. Walking relieves grief and survivors' guilt. Walking feels like I'm shouting to the heavens, “You are not forgotten. You are with me, walking to fund research.”
Decades ago strangers helped fund the clinical trials in which I was treated. Now it's my turn to be a stranger who helps patients in need of better treatments.
My health care team has taken superb care of me for 25 years. It's my turn to help them by raising money for patient services that make clinicians' jobs easier and for research that will put better therapies at their disposal.
For complete essay: Why Patients Keep Walking