Walking a very special walk

By Bruce Stambaugh

To be honest, it wasn’t a walk I thought I would ever make, especially just five weeks out from my robotic prostate surgery.

But when my friend, Kim, a prostate cancer survivor himself, suggested we participate in the Survivor’s Walk at the recent Relay for Life rally for Holmes County, Ohio, I couldn’t say no. I knew I needed to be there. Kim’s encouragement gave me courage.

However, Kim and I each had our own personal reservations about walking. I guess I just hadn’t fully comprehended the meaning of being a survivor while so many others struck with the dreadful disease could no longer say that. Walking together was an incentive to get involved.

When I learned that he, too, hesitated, I relaxed and realized that it was all right to be uncertain. My good wife, who has been an incredible companion throughout my journey with prostate cancer, went along, too.

Though ever supportive of the cause, I had never attended a Relay for Life gathering. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought you had to be part of a team to help raise funds. I was wrong.

When we arrived at the high school football stadium, it looked more like a small tent city. We registered at the survivor’s tent, which just happened to be the largest one there. That should have been a big hint to me.

Other tents hosted auction items, groups, games, sponsors, organizations and several cancer information stations. Still others were for campers who intended to overnight for the 18-hour event.

We found a place in the bleachers opposite the main stage. The co-coordinators reviewed the program schedule for those assembled, and the entertainment committee did their job well. They humorously energized us.

After the relay teams, all attired in color-coordinated T-shirts, were announced, the survivors took to the track. Survivor supporters could also walk if they wanted.

Blue Cure by Bruce Stambaugh
Kim Kellogg (right) and I wore our Blue Cure T-shirts in the Survivor's Walk at the Holmes Co. Relay for Life held recently.

Kim and I, both dressed in our Blue Cure T-shirts, began the walk near the front of the line. The Blue Cure Foundation (www.BlueCure.com) was founded to specifically bring awareness about prostate cancer.

As we began our walk, emotion stirred within. Soon though smiles replaced any doubts we had. Just ahead of us, a man pushed an older woman in a wheelchair. Scores of people lined the sides of the oval track and clapped and boisterously cheered us on.

I looked back, and was shocked to see so many people behind us. I told Kim that for a small-populated, rural county, there were a lot of cancer survivors. We guessed this group represented only a fraction of those affected by some sort of cancer.

Our encouragers included young children, senior citizens, strangers and friends. Yet we were all there for the same reason. We wanted to do something to find a cure, and I concluded that walking the walk I never thought I would make was the least I could do.

As we approached the finish line, the horizon darkened. A rainbow appeared, not in the sky, but on the field. The array of colors was itself bathed in an overarching purple, the universal color designated for every kind of cancer.

This walk I was initially hesitant to make turned out to be one I would not wanted to have missed. In this fight against cancer, none of us were walking alone.

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

68 thoughts on “Walking a very special walk”

  1. I love this post! I do a lot of writing for a regional cancer center, and I interview survivors constantly — their spirit is so strong, and it’s clear you reflect that same strength and passion for life.

    Congrats to you, and I wish you continued healing.

    Robotic surgery: I’m guessing da Vinci? Such amazing technology…


    1. Thanks, Mikalee. Yes, I had da Vinci surgery May 12 and am getting along better than expected. I hope to hear the words “cancer free” at my next check up next week. I appreciate your nice comments, especially so since they come from another writer/editor, and a well-established one at that. Yes. I visited your blog, and subscribed. Thanks, again. Bruce


      1. Wow…thank YOU! I’m so glad to have found you — can’t wait to read more of your story.

        In the meantime, I’m sending “cancer-free” juju your way. I have a good feeling — if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all of my research (and through personal experience struggling with my own challenges), it’s that our spirit and how we choose to tackle obstacles both have tremendous impact on the paths our lives take.

        You’re clearly embracing life, and cancer doesn’t like that!

        Take care. I’m a new subscriber of yours, too!


  2. Hi there. What a great post. My father has battled prostate cancer for six years now. While he had his prostate removed, they did not get all of the cancer cells so he still posts a PSA result when they check his blood. We have been blessed to work with great doctors at Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and we are battling this hated disease as hard as we can. I am so proud of you and the walk you did. It’s people like you that help push for a cure. Good luck with your recovery and keep the faith. That’s my best advice from watching my dad in his journey.


  3. Bruce, Congrats and the best to you as you recover. Enjoyed reading your post.

    The second annual PurpleStride Pancreatic Cancer Walk took place here in DC this past weekend. It was beautiful seeing all the purple balloons and TShirts worn in support. These walks are so important in creating awareness and combatting these diseases. Each step brings us closer to that goal.

    Thank you for sharing!


  4. Thank you for sharing your experience and congratulations on your accomplishment. There is something about walking or running to commemorate those who are gone or continue fighting to live. I had a similar experience when I ran the Oklahoma City Marathon a few years ago. Running through the city and seeing banners with the names of those who were killed in the bombing made me appreciate every painful step I took towards the finish line. At the end, to have a medal placed around my neck by a surviving family member, was incredibly humbling. It’s times like those that we truly appreciate every moment we’re given in this short life. Best of luck in your recovery!


  5. WoooHooo!!! Way to Go, Bruce! I want to thank you for sharing your story, but even more so for your lovely, infectious smile, which drew me in to your modest cyber-abode. Your smile was a gift encouraging one of my own.


  6. What a moving post, beautifully written, and you show great courage. I wish you all the best for the rest of your recovery process.

    P.s you live in a very beautiful part of the world. Recently, I was very fortunate to spend a weekend in Millersberg. I have been to many places in the world but this is definitely in the top ten for beauty and its peaceful atmosphere.


  7. Hi Bruce – I am a Reiki healer and I just wanted to share the fact with you that in Reiki the colour purple is the colour of healing. It is the colour I get behind my eyelids when strong healing of body and especially the spirit is underway. So I guess your rainbow was a sign of something big, eh?

    Stay well, m’dear …


    1. Yes, I have felt the prayers of many people all through my journey with prostate cancer. Without God and his good people, I don’t know how I could have gotten through all of this. Blessings, Bruce


  8. This walk made people realize the effects of cancer on people. I admire your courage as well as those who participated. If all people try to be like you, our World would be a better place. Congrats not just for being freshly pressed but more importantly for CARING!


    1. Thanks so much for you nice comments. I was honored to be Freshly Pressed. It has allowed me to connect with kind, creative people like you. I briefly viewed your blog. Just by the topics of your writing and the crisp images I saw, I would say we have much in common. Blessings to you. Bruce


  9. Nice post! So glad you’re doing well. A friend of mine organizes and raises money for one of these walks in California every year.


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