This blog is a record of my observations, experiences and crazy thoughts about my 800 kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (April-May 2009).
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
My Walk in 2010
In 2009, I walked the Camino. It was, a pilrimage of gratitude, a walk of joy, a time to reflect on a life well-lived. It was a prayer of hope and a journey of peace and a pathway to renewal.
My Camino continues and as always, there are stones in my path, challenges to face and opportunities to be patient and humble. The Camino was and is so much more. It was (and is) a gift to myself.
This year I am celebrating 5 years as a breast cancer survivor. Not everyone survives.
This year, I am making a gift to that community, a gift to those who suffer from breast cancer. This year I am making another walk. As part of my celebration of life, my daughter and I will be in Charlotte, NC on October 23-24th to walk a marathon and a half (that’s 39 miles!) in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I am honored and humbled to be among the thousands of others who will walk with us as part of a commitment to end breast cancer. I will walk on behalf of those who are no longer with us, those who cannot walk, those who cannot celebrate the gift of life.
Five years ago I was medivaced out of my Peace Corps Ukraine site and underwent three major surgeries in three short weeks. My dream of serving in Peace Corps was crushed; my body was ravaged; and I still have the scars of my personal battle. But I got off easy. Many of our sisters, grandmothers, mothers, wives, daughters and best friends die of this insidious disease. Families are destroyed. Lives are ruined. Dreams evaporate. Tears fall.
Did you know that breast cancer kills approximately one woman every 13 minutes (Someone’s dying as I write this e-mail.). One in eight women will develop breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women right now, and the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55. Every woman is at risk, because we don’t know how to prevent it. There’s no escaping it, each of us will be touched by the effects of breast cancer.
The Avon Foundation is doing something about it, but it takes money. I’ve pledged to raise $1,800. If you would like to help me in my fight against breast cancer, please visit my webpage: www.avonwalk.org/goto/Virginia.Pulver.Walk (or go to www.avonwalk.org and click on Charlotte - then type in my name). You can also access my fundraising site from my Facebook profile: look at the tab on the top of my profile page. It is soooo easy to make an online donation, but you can just snail-mail a check if that’s easier for YOU. Make it out to “Avon Walk for Breast Cancer” and mail it off to me at 3355 Governor Miles Road, Santa Fe, NM 87507. I will mail you an official receipt.
If you’d like me to walk in honor/memory of anyone close to you who has battled breast cancer, please drop a note along with your pledge. I will write that person’s name on a ribbon and pin it to my pack so others can read their names and we can honor their memory as we walk and talk and share.
One of the things I discovered as I went through my own cancer experience is that I am blessed with an amazing circle of friends and family. The love and support was so unexpected. Something else that was unexpected was the wealth of stories people shared with me and continue to share with me. Once I mention that I am a survivor, the dam breaks and a flood of stories pour out. There is so much pain, so much sadness…let’s change that. Let’s change the story…let’s celebrate instead of commiserate. Let’s write a happy ending! Let’s end breast cancer.
Life is good…and we each have the power to make it better. Thank you for the good you do in this world.
Virginia J. Pulver
My sweet spouse will be working behind the scenes as part of the crew that makes the Charlotte Avon Walk for Breast Cancer a success. He won’t be camping with the walkers, sleeping in a tent or making the 39 mile walk, but I bet he will come home with wonderful stories of courage and love. Being face to face with so many people who have been touched by breast cancer will be amazing and cathartic for us all.
In April 2009, I began my 500-mile trek across the rocky paths and mountains of northen Spain. I finished my walk on the the ancient Way of St James (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) in early June 2009.
I consider this a pilgrimage of gratitude. Each step was an opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance life offers; each footstep, one of finding joy. It was a humbling experience. It was a character-building experience. It was a spiritual adventure and a physical one too - who knew I was such a mountain goat? I hope you will enjoy my rambling, stream of consciousness obeservations of my experiences as a pilgrim on this historic pilgrimage route that really is only the begining.
Of course veteran pilgrims know: the Camino never ends - once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim. So, wherever YOUR path takes you, I wish you "Buen Camino".