Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekend to End Women's Cancers 2010


If there is one lesson that can be learned from this soggy weekend to end women's cancers it is to be prepared. The weekend was a textbook example of what can happen when you are not prepared.

I began today looking at the sky and thinking it would stop, the rain that is. As I rode at 600am to the start point, I began to have doubts but carried on. It is not that I do not have rain gear, I have a British waxed cotton cycling cape, rainproof ware, gortex jackets...even waterproof booties. As for the cold, I have a closet full of sweaters and polartec fleece. As an afterthought I put on a wool cycling jersey thinking I can always take it off. For a jacket I wore a water resistant one. Memo to self water resistant means useless.

As I rode off with the walkers, I was following some marathon walkers, it became obvious that I was in trouble as I started to freeze. I asked the car sweeps to go to my house, close by and pick up my cape..no luck. My husband met me at St. Paul university where I donned it. My water resistant jacket was by this time, a soggy mess. Now I was dry somewhat but was dangerously cold!

My walkers did not stop and when we returned to Carleton, I was almost numb. I went into the medical tent to lie in a sleeping bag wrapped in tin foil. There were plenty of tin foil therma blankets. An elderly woman came in shortly after me almost blue with cold and wet.

The medical people had to use their own personal sleeping bags and blankets. They had not prepared for cold and wet. They had plenty of materials for heat but nothing for cold. I offered and did bring blankets from my home to assist. Apparently there were more blankets in a truck somewhere. Why not just call the St. John's ambulance?

The organizers were also completely unprepared for the cold. They gave us ice cream at the end of the walk and at each rest stations there were plenty of ice cold drinks. No hot drinks to be seen! The volunteers were shivering, clad in tin foil and making sure the drinks stayed cold.

The day remained cold and wet. How hard would it have been to get large containers of coffee to the pit stops? For that matter why was Starbucks or Tim Hortons not contacted before hand to provide coffee at the rest stops?

Like me the Cancer Foundation folks were totally unprepared. Unlike me, their lack of preparedness affected close to 700 walkers and could have had serious consequences. I am particularly prone to hypothermia and know the symptoms very well!

The weekend was an colossal example of how not to run an event. I was on the caboose team, who ride with the walkers. We were issued nearly useless radio-cell phone-walkie talkies. All but useless. When you did reach dispatch...they did not know radio signals. There was no way of knowing if they copied you, or received the information...no 10-4s...fiasco. The radio-cell phones rarely worked at the best of times and on a bicycle were totally useless.

On the first day, we had a long hot walk and arrived at lunch in Jacques Cartier park only to find they had run out of food. What food they did have was utterly disgusting, greasy hamburgers from long frozen patties of meat-like material, dry and horrid on white buns with trans fat laden french fries. This is 2010. Many walkers are dealing with cancer. Are you trying to kill them by poisoning them? The lunch was beyond atrocious, it was a disgrace and an insult to the walkers who worked so hard to raise funds so that the Cancer foundations salaries can be paid.

The weekend should focus on women's health. There were no workshops on healthy living or exercise, no materials given out, no healthy food. Instead the walkers were subjected to appalling and unhealthy fare which made many sick. Instead of using this to promote women's health the walkers were subjected to the usual hucksterism of registering for next year and purchasing items to feed the breast cancer industry. The money raised pays your salaries folks.. put more thought into this!

The rest stops were well meaning and well staffed but again, an appalling lack of nutritional value. While there were oranges, there were mainly potato chips, popcorn and other junk food that most people over the age of 10 don't eat, and most people under the age of 10 are forbidden by their parents to eat.

What is going on?

The only aspects that were well done were the medical and massage personel as well as the volunteers. As for the paid organizers from the Cancer foundation, they should be ashamed of this weekend and use it as an example of how not to run an event.

I believe the foundation owes the walkers an enormous apology for the shameful and disrespectful way they were treated.

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