For cancer survivors, a walk in the park

CURE magazine invited Linah Lubin, from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, to share her experience on the New York EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women, a 5K that raises funds to help eradicate women's cancers.On May 1, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship staff, volunteers, and advocates participated in the 13th annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women in New York City. The walk aimed to raise awareness about women's cancers (the race theme was "discover your womentum"), and along the route from Times Square to Central Park, the event brought together thousands of runners and walkers--most of whom have been impacted by cancer in some way. This was my second year participating in the event because the NCCS, where I work, was chosen as a beneficiary of the New York event for the second year (there's an L.A. run/walk the following week). For me, this year's event was even better than the last. A beautiful sunny day greeted runners, walkers, and volunteers of all ages and races, wearing all different colored T-shirts (that's a big deal in the cancer community!) who laughed, hugged, and supported one another. From my vantage point behind the table in the NCCS booth, this didn't seem like the kind of race people did just to get their 5K practice in. It felt to me that everyone I met was there because they were a cancer survivor or were supporting someone who was. So many people I met reached for a big, yellow NCCS "Survivor" button to wear on their shirt or asked for a "I love a cancer survivor" temporary tattoo. NCCS was lucky enough to have a couple of girls from a local Girl Scout troop volunteer to make bracelets that we gave away at our booth. People were clamoring for those "hope" adorned bracelets like they were actual pieces of hope. Many needed another bracelet for a friend or family member who couldn't make it that day but needed to be reminded that there is hope--hope for a cure; hope for improvements to quality care; hope to just keep going. That's what made it so special for me to be a part of this event. Seeing the smiling (and sweaty) faces of people who just wanted to do something to feel better or to support someone they loved was incredible. They wanted to share their story with complete strangers and know they weren't alone. They wanted to share the hope and be part of a movement or an event, and this was their chance to do it. When you work full-time for a cancer advocacy organization, you become so steeped in the everyday tasks of the job that it can become easy to forget why you started working there in the first place. Events like the EIF Revlon Run/Walk, or any event that brings cancer survivors together in the spirit of hope and togetherness, help me remember why I love what I do, and how much of an impact it makes just to be there. Linah Lubin is the communications and media relations manager at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. You can read more about NCCS at www.canceradvocacy.org.