First of all, apologies to my tens of loyal readers who have been disappointed by the lack of current posts. I have been busy serving as the “pit crew” for my beloved’s weekend sixty mile walk for breast cancer. That is not a typo. About 2400 women and a few valiant men walked twenty miles each day in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3–Day. It was an emotional weekend for both Joni and me.
Joni first started talking about signing up for the 3–Day walk before she had even finished treatment. I supported her but thought perhaps there was a little leftover “chemo-brain” involved in that idea. Then her sister Gayla (who did not have the chemo-brain excuse) said she would walk with Joni. So Gayla began training in Florida and Joni in Texas. This weekend they walked side by side for three grueling days. And they did it.
I could not help but remember where we had come from in this long journey. There were some really tough times. A song on the iPod today summed up Joni’s spirit throughout this fight. The tune is by the group Rascal Flatts and the song title is Stand.
You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless, like you've lost your fight.
I flashed back to diagnosis day, putting in the port for chemotherapy and walking into the “slow drip spa” scared to death as Joni faced the first treatment. I remembered the effects of the aptly nicknamed “red devil” chemo treatment. I thought of setbacks that tested our faith and our resolve. I recalled that it was eighteen months ago that Joni was hospitalized with her white blood count at zero. That is also not a typo.
I know Joni will love me using this flattering photo but there is a point. We could not have been lower than we were that day. But we trusted God and just kept battling. The lyrics of Stand nicely summarized her attitude.
'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what your made of
You might bend 'til you break
'Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe you hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand
Joni would be the first to tell you that the most important step in that process is being on your knees in prayer and looking up to your source of strength in the Lord. I have written often about her amazing faith, strength and grace throughout this journey. We could not have imagined that just over a year after that photo was taken that Joni would be training for a sixty mile walk. Joni decided to be strong, trust God and then she stood. Fast forward eighteen months and Joni joined her sister on an amazing journey.
Here is a little photo journal of this awesome weekend…
We dropped off “The Sunshine Sisters” before the sun was even shining. Joni was a bit emotional that the day was finally here.
Joni and Gayla in front of their lavish accommodations.
Gayla by one of the hundreds of porta-pottys. What was the sound many women were most looking forward to when they got home? The sound of flushing!
Hannah wore a smokin’ hot pink Spandex body suit to honor her “mom” in the walk. The sign says “Waggin’ for a Cure”. If intensity of wagging helps a cure is very near.
There were supporters from many different species.
Dignity was optional.
Nights got a little chilly. Gayla demonstrates the “wrap”.
The family and shy Hannah met our walkers at a cheering station on Day 2.
The 3–Day is grueling. But so was the journey that my bride has finally finished. The 3–Day became a metaphor for how we should deal with the trials and storms of our life. The lyrics of Stand are again appropriate.
Every time you get up and get back in the race
One more small piece of you starts to fall into place - and you stand.
Joni wept as she crossed the finish line on Sunday. Not from exhaustion although that could have been an option. She wept because this symbolized that this difficult journey is behind her. Other trials will surely come along in our lives. But we know one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. God is faithful. Peter’s words to the early church fit well here.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you…Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5, NLT)
Sunday afternoon we met up with our brides after they finished the course.
Gayla and Joni look better after walking 60 miles than Sal and I do after just watching them.
The closing ceremonies were amazing. Thousands of walkers, family and friends gathered at SMU in Dallas. This is just one section of the crowd.
Joni marched in the “Survivors Circle” to the cheers of the crowd. It was an incredibly moving moment.
Later we had some photo ops with friends.
…and our wonderful sons and daughter-in-laws (Holly, Matt, Scott, Caroline, Brett)
Joni with the men in her life…Brett, Scott, Matt and Old Guy
Those who have followed Joni’s journey know that she was honored to throw out the first pitch on Mother’s Day for the Texas Rangers. On Sunday night our family celebrated the weekend and presented her with the actual home plate from that game signed by the Texas Ranger’s players and coaches.
Joni has stayed the course and crossed the plate on this tough journey. She was released from her oncologist two days before the walk.
If you are facing adversity may I encourage you and let you know that you can do it too. Allow me to change the pronoun to the plural form as I quote Paul’s message to the Philippians.
(We) have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (We) can do everything through Him who gives (us) strength. Yet it was good of you to share in (our) troubles.
Thank you for sharing in our journey and our troubles. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, saltine crackers and especially your prayers. We are blessed beyond measure.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.