“That is what the spirit of the race ‘LA PARISIENNE’ is all about: Girl Power!”

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17 years ago, I was diagnosed with bone cancer.  My doctor told me that if I lived, which was unlikely, I would definitely be bound to a wheelchair and would never walk again. As you can well imagine, when a teenage girl is confronted with this sort of news, one natural reaction is to REBEL!

You could say that 1995 was the biggest year of rebellion for me.  While I lay in the hospital bed, I promised myself that, if I DID live, I would never take my mobility for granted again.  I promised that I would listen to my body in the future and that I would push it to see how strong it could be. I promised myself that I would start to emotionally connect to my body and become more comfortable in all that it could do. That was a real awakening for me and I’m very happy that I survived!

So many years have passed and I still keep those promises near to my heart.  One way that I fulfill that promise to myself is to participate in organized runs and races.  If these runs are to fight cancer – they are all the more appealing to me.  So you can imagine my enthusiasm when this year, Schneider Electric invited me to join a team to run La Parisienne.

La Parisienne is an annual organized race, dedicated to raise money for the Foundation for Medical Research and specifically to fight breast cancer by funding medical research.  Breast cancer still kills more than 500,000 women a year, worldwide and is the number one killer of women in France.  This year marks the 15th anniversary of this race, so it was a special milestone and worthy of a festive atmosphere.

In fact, “festive atmosphere” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Imagine more than 21,000 women (and even a couple of men dressed as women) doing Zumba under the Eiffel Tower as a warm up – and then you will start to understand what I mean.  It was completely ELECTRIC.

Being an American expat in France, sometimes you feel like you’re on the outside looking in on a fun cultural party that you just can’t seem to join.  La Parisienne is the antidote to this feeling.  In this one day, I felt such a strong connection to this city, to my company and to all the women around me.  We are all girls, facing the same struggles and fighting to kill the same disease.  That’s something that goes beyond culture.  That is what the spirit of this race is all about. Girl Power!

Lorraine Townsend