Tuesday, April 16, 2024

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: More than just a walk


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Last year I undertook the Walk For The Cure event primarily because I saw it as a noble cause.

I had no real connection to the purpose for which I was walking but felt I was being useful. That was due largely in part to a couple of friends who had urged me on and one in particular who I joined in this road feat.

But bolstered by last year’s performance and the feeling that I had found a small purpose in life, not forgetting that I also vowed that I would be back, I again enlisted to be part of the Barbados Cancer Society’s Breast Screening Programme’s CIBC FirstCaribbean Walk For the Cure action. But there had been a very significant occurrence since the last public awareness walk that highlights the issue of breast cancer.

I put in another creditable performance finishing around the same one hour or just over as I did last year.

This year there were a lot more people on the walk, so much so that about 15 minutes after its official start walkers were still streaming from the starting point at the Garrison, St Michael. The 4 p.m. starting time was an hour later than last year’s.

I recalled that last year by the time I hit River Road I had guzzled down my water and was parched to such excess my throat felt as though I was crawling across a desert during a sand storm. The next water station seemed a million miles off though I reached it in a matter of minutes.

The blinding glare from the evening sun made me imagined that the course, which wend its way from the Garrison along Dalkeith, Culloden, Lower Collymore Rock, River Road, Probyn Street and Bay Street, was a lot more tortuous than it really was. 

The extreme effect of the surrounding environment on me might have had more to do with my lack of fitness at the time than any real problems. Nevertheless, at that time I persevered and made it all the way to the finish line where big bold red numbers marked my achievement.

This time I noticed one or two changes to the event. The later start was a lot more comfortable making it more suitable for the elderly and young children to move along without the sweltering heat to impede them.

I had time to look around and wonder about what was going through the minds of the people as they took on the walk, a lifesaving venture for some. I wonder how much meaning it had for some – some of whom were caught up in the music flowing from the truck.

The music had been lost on Toni, Cindy and I as we tackled the route while agonising over the gravity of the cause. Things had changed with me since the last walk.

Earlier in the week after completing the registration for my daughter, “Ya Ya” and I, she jolted me with a revelation. “Ya Ya’s” friend had told her that her mother had breast cancer. The news has distressed both the woman’s teenage daughter and Ya Ya.

But before that another friend close to a relative of mine revealed that she too has been battling the illness. Battling, because of the mental stress that accompanies the diagnosis and the physical treatment that weakens the body after a while.

Then a lack of a proper support system could cause a greater toll on the body. It would be, I imagine, painfully lonely to have to sit through initial chemotherapy trips alone and financially draining to pay for all that medication.

I had a different perspective this time around as I round the corner to the finish line. Things had changed for me and I wonder come next walk whether they would change for hundreds of others who were walking because it was a fun thing to do.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor.


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