It’s a great privilege and pleasure to write an article for The Pinkathon Blog. Starting this blog is a wonderful idea to keep all the pink sisters motivated throughout the year to work towards a healthy lifestyle and fitness.
Pinkathon first came into my life in the November of 2013. The year Pune was first introduced to the mesmerising event that is sweeping the country Pink!! It was a bleak and uncertain period of my life when I was 4 months into my recovery from an Ovarian Cancer operated in June 2013. Before cancer happened I was an avid trekker having scaled the heights of Sahyadris and the Himalayas. I was an enthusiastic cyclist with more than 1000 kms of cycling and a good swimmer, an amateur runner and a novice paraglider. Just when life was flying high, I was brought crashing down with a life threatening disease. I often wondered if I had any hopes of once again returning to the life I so much loved and cherished. I missed being physically active and agile. My exercise routine then was no more than silent walks at a slow n leisure pace and I was eager to do more.
In October I first came to know about Pinkathon, an all women run pioneered by Mr. Milind Soman. The fact that it was an initiative for awareness about Breast cancer and a helping hand to the needy patients was what held my interest. I immediately enrolled for a 5 km run. The next entire month was exciting as I trained for the event with the support of my husband and son. They both encouraged me wholeheartedly and planned out a fitness plan for me. Some days we even joined the Pune Running Team in Kothrud for practice runs, but my health did not allow me to get up early morning and join the group in the wee hours of 5.45 am, so I decided to train on my own at my own pace. When 13th November morning dawned I was excited as a school girl to go run my first run after my surgery. I was the first participant on the Jain Mahavidyalaya ground on BMCC road. The pink theme decorating the entire ground with flowers, balloons, ribbons, a banners flag etc. were very welcoming and refreshing. The Zumba dance, the dhol, the music and cheering put all participants in high spirits. With so much of positive atmosphere the run was loads of fun. Even before I knew I had completed my 5km run with an easy and steady pace. Deepak, my husband was running throughout on the footpath parallel to me maintaining a safe distance. Even though the volunteers tried to stop him he was too anxious to leave me alone. As I crossed the finish line I just knew that I was going to recover completely from cancer and go ahead and run many more runs. This will always remain my most memorable 5kms ever. Even though I ran many runs and events later Pinkathon gave me the hope and the confidence to once again go back to a normal life. There I also met and heard other cancer survivors who had come out winners and were now crusaders of health and cancer awareness. The entire morning remained itched in my mind as a memory to cherish. I looked forward to be a part of Pinkathon again next year. Throughout the year I shared my experience with other women and motivated them to participate next year in this wonderful event.
This year in October 2014 a very good friend Mr. Nikhil Shah called me and asked if I would like to be a Pinkathon Mascot for Cancer patients and Pinkathon Ambassador. It was the happiest moment of my life. I had gone on to recover fully from my cancer in the meantime and all my reports were now normal. During the last few months I had also started working in my own small way in creating awareness about cancer as a lifestyle disease and the need to live a healthy lifestyle. It was the most obvious thing to do for me being in the medical field for last 18 years as a homoeopathic consultant and a counsellor. As an Ambassador and a mascot when I worked shoulder to shoulder with Team Pinkathon and Mr. Milind Soman I realised we shared the same passion. Our mission was to reach out to the women in the society and make them aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and taking up some physical activity like running, trekking, swimming, cycling, hill climbing, sport etc. for a fitter and happier life. The entire month was beautifully choreographed by Team Pinkathon with various promotional events. Press conferences, TV coverage, Newspaper articles, online newspapers CSR Times, daily updates and post on social sites like Facebook and Google and WhatsApp.
We went around the city with Milind giving talks and public addresses at Eon Park. Kharadi, Vodafone, Amway Meet , SBI head quarters at Shankarsheth road etc. We also ran promo runs in various parts of the city like University, Diwali Pahata at Magarpatta City , the Halloween Bash at Aundh and Wakad area, every day more and more women joined us with enthusiasm and vigour.
Team Pinkathon and Milind came up with a unique idea to create a cancer squad called SHERO Squad. Brave n courageous cancer winners joined us on a trek to fort Sinhagad. It was a heart-warming moment to see the pride of achievement on the faces of these comrades. Personally for me too it was my first climb after my surgery and I was excited that I was doing it with my friends at Pinkathon. This was the most power packed and action packed month of my life. I never knew when the day began and how it ended. My family was very supportive throughout though at times they worried about my health. Words of caution care and love asking me to take it easy came from friends and family.
6th November 2014 , Mullick Ground morning 6 am saw 6000 beautiful enthusiastic women of all age ranging from 18 months to 80 years all geared up to run/walk. All the efforts for the last one month had brought so much happiness. As I stood on the podium with The Milind Soman to address 6000 women on cancer awareness it was the most blessed moment of my life. My entire family was there with me. During the one month I toiled as a Pinkathon ambassador people kept asking me “What’s the stake for you in this as a Pinkathon Ambassador. Do you get paid for it?. How do you benefit?”
Today I can say that I am the richest person as a Pinkathon Ambassador.
The joy on seeing the smiles on the faces of each and every woman at the finish line is my reward.
To see my entire family participate in Pinkathon is my prize.
To have my mother complete 3 kms after her knee replacement surgery is my return.
To make awesome friends on team Pinkathon is my treasure for life.
To be able to just be with the barefoot pioneer Milind Soman for one whole month is my safe deposit vault.
To motivate women who have never ran to run Pinkathon is my asset.
To have my family and friends support me unconditionally is my lifetime achievement.
To see tears of joy and accomplishment in the blind eyes of 22 girls and their companions is my blessing.
To be given a platform like Pinkathon to springboard my work on cancer awareness is my return on investment.
The love , trust, respect ,joy, happiness, recognition ,gem of friends, family support, sense of fulfilment, serving the society, awesome memories to last me for a lifetime ..Isn’t this want we all want in life!!
This is want Pinkathon Ambassadorship gave me.
Dr Mitali Upadhye.
Homoeopathic Consultant, Counsellor, Healing Therapist.