Today I’m writing about a walking woman dear to me: my sister. My sister has been battling bladder cancer for the last 3 years.
She went through an initial surgery to remove the bladder, followed by chemo therapy and radiation treatment. After all of this, life has been one of watching, hoping and dealing with the side effects of using an urostomy (bladder) bag resulting in multiple infections.
Tiredness, caution to avoid new infections – which come on suddenly and fierce – along with multiple stays at the hospital to treat those infections are the order of the day.
And yet, my sister walks to the store, walks along the river where she lives, walks on outings her husband arranges. “I can’t lie around all day,” she says, “it’s depressing.”
My sister has spirit. Although cancer has put limits on her life, she makes the best of what she has. She relishes in the sunshine when it comes out, appreciates a meal she cooks, a visit with a friend, a visit to a local market.
She lives with what is possible. She walks to feel better in the fresh air, to say hello to neighbors, to see a new sight – even if she has to be driven there first.
Now, a year later, even though her lower leg has no feeling in it anymore, she has learned to walk with a leg support. She goes to the gym and has inched her way back to what she considers a respectable walk.
On her last vacation to her favorite resort town, she walked 5 km in the mountains! You can’t keep a good woman down, they say. Well, that goes for my sister. I’ve shared in one of my blogs that I hike to live deeply, but my sister walks to live.
If you look around you, you probably know a woman like my sister. A woman who keeps on making the best of life despite her limitations. Such women are the heroines in our world. They have the spirit that drives healing: they heal themselves and those who suffer around them.
Walking is a healing activity which can inspire others. There is a concept called “the girl effect,” and it very much relates to how my sister affects others.
The girl effect simply means that by supporting and educating one disadvantaged girl, the world around her will benefit. She will improve the lives of those who depend on her: her husband, her children, her family, her village.
I want to introduce a new concept, “the walking woman effect.” Since the time I started walking and hiking with a purpose, and then writing about it, I’ve noticed that those around me want to join in. They end up walking more than they would have before. They don’t want to lag behind.
Be a walking woman and change the world around you. Women who walk feel good about themselves and bring that feeling into the world around them, changing that world one step at a time.
After my last walking trip, a four-day hike adventure, I came into a small town and ordered a chai and bagel at a coffee shop. My ruddy, wind-burned face found a positive response in the woman serving behind the counter.
When I thanked her for helping me, she responded, “I’m jealous of you, walking all that way.” My answer was as it always is, “You can walk too; it’ll change your life.” I encouraged her to check out the walking women page on my website if she needed help getting started.
You too can become a walking woman who inspires the world around you. My sister sure is. I think of her as a woman who walks to live.
Her cancer is in remission, walking is making her better and who knows? The distances she walks will become greater, fueled by that great spirit she carries inside her.
Has anyone inspired you by dealing with a difficult situation in a positive way? Is your walking affecting others around you? Let’s have a conversation.