A Son’s 60-Mile Tribute: Meet Derek

At the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, we meet all kinds of wonderful people, who each have their own personal reasons for taking on the extraordinary 60 mile journey. For a young man named Derek, from Issaquah, WA, that reason is his mother, Cheryl, who passed away from breast cancer when Derek was just 14 years old. What’s remarkable about this son walking 60 miles in memory of his mother is that Derek is 18 years old–barely 18, in fact, having just turned the corner into “official” adulthood three weeks before the Komen 3-Day in Seattle–and he signed up to walk completely on his own.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk seattle 18 years old derek

Derek shared on his 3-Day® fundraising page, “My mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, 1999. Her cancer metastasized in January, 2005. She showed faith, courage, stamina and humor to get through two seizures, a pharmacy error with her chemotherapy infusion (but rescued by an alert nurse and doctor) and many other trials. Though she fought so bravely for many years, the cancer, combined with a staph infection, ultimately took her life on October 9, 2010. I am participating in the 3-Day event not only to raise money to end this wretched disease, but to honor my mother, the living embodiment of a courageous spirit.”

We met up with this inspiring first-time walker on Saturday night at the Seattle 3-Day, where he was hanging out in the dining tent. We’d been encouraged to seek Derek out after several participants told us about the brave, kind young man they’d met on the route, who had registered all on his own, and not only took on the 60-mile challenge, but also raised a total of $4,800, more than double the required minimum.

“My mom walked the 3-Day about 8 years ago, and then she passed away four years ago. I realized I’d never done anything in honor of her, and I remembered she did the 3-Day. I found out I’d be turning 18 just three weeks before, so I’d be eligible to walk alone, and I decided, hey, this is something I really want to do.”

Derek was pleased that fundraising wasn’t too difficult. He emailed family, friends and neighbors, along with everyone who knew his mom, and asked them to keep forwarding his fundraising link to others. Does Derek have any advice for someone struggling with their fundraising? “Try something new to market yourself, brand it differently, create an event,” he said.

Fundraising was one challenge Derek easily overcame, but how about training? Derek also found success with his training, as he goes to the gym regularly, and notes that he knows the limits of his body. In addition to walking, he crosstrained with some long distance runs, and he recently overcame an ankle injury.

Were there any points during Day 1 or Day 2 where the miles were getting tough, we wondered? “Coming into this, I thought it was more of a mental thing after a while. You will be tired, you will be sore, you will be hurting. You need to challenge yourself. We’re walking for people who are fighting cancer; we can walk a couple more miles,” Derek said.

We asked Derek what his experience had been like, coming into the 3-Day as a new, solo walker? “The experience has been amazing. I came into this not knowing anyone here, figuring I’d make friends. It’s been unreal. The support along the way is crazy. It’s been really nice to have people come up to me, saying, ‘You’re kind of young to be doing this,’ and strike up a conversation.”

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Derek (center) with his brother and dad

Derek received many supportive texts and messages to rally him on, and he was looking forward to seeing his friends at cheering stations on the final day of the Seattle 3-Day. By the time we finished chatting, Derek’s father, Kent, and his brother, Ian, had arrived to show their support.

We asked Derek if he had any closing thoughts for those who have yet to embark on their 60-mile journey. His answer filled us with hope, and demonstrates again the amazing bravery, courage and dedication of our 3-Day family: “Think of all the cancer patients out there who are fighting as hard as they can. They don’t have a choice to fight. They just have to go through it. You have a choice. You can go through this, and it will help them. You can do this.”

 

Let’s hear it for the 3-Day men! A guest post by Dr. Sheri

Each year in the U.S., more than 200,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and nearly 2,000 cases are diagnosed in men. So that’s one case in men for every 100 cases in women. While male breast cancer is rare, it is real.

At each Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, men show up strong and proud. They may not have experienced breast cancer themselves but their wives, mothers, sisters or best friends have. Our great men are people of integrity and values that they will not compromise. They are men who put their families first and would protect them with their own lives.

Photo of Dr. Sheri with several long-time 3-Day Walkers

Dr. Sheri with several long-time 3-Day Walkers

Every one of the men on the Komen 3-Day has shown himself as a person who’s willing to help anyone who needs it. Come torrential downpours or Nor’easter snowstorms, they are there when called. These men are so respectful of other people’s feelings and needs, but each holds his position highly and never retreats from negative situations, but only stays in them to make peace.

Women (myself included) say good men are hard to find but they are out there, especially on the 3-Day.  Now ladies, I’m not advocating the 3-Day as a way to meet men, but I’ve lost count of the number of engagements, anniversaries, honeymoons and even marriages that have occurred on a 3-Day. Just saying! The signs of a good man are easy to spot because he practices random acts of kindness (for you and/or strangers), can turn a boring task into something fun, hardly ever complains and is passionate about life, his work and you.

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A guy’s own dependability, his ability to both lead and follow when necessary and his perseverance through hardships all make up a true man. A man should be proud of his accomplishments and ensure he is not ruled by his fears and insecurities. A good man ought to look back at how he has grown and laugh at his weaknesses while also strengthening them.

Whether a man realizes it or not, he has the capacity to lead others. 3-Day Men—-you inspire us, and we thank you for all that you do!

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The 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day Seattle Wrap Up

 

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What a weekend we had at the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Seattle! The Seattle Center was the perfect backdrop for an inspiring and moving Opening Ceremony, with the Space Needle glowing behind the Fisher Pavilion. After a beautiful sunrise, we were reminded why we walk and crew by Dr. Sheri, moved by amazing survivor and participant stories, and headed out with our first steps, passing by the Experience Music Project Museum. Walkers crossed the famous I-90 Floating Bridge, were cheered on by the amazing Seattle community at the Park on the Lid on Mercer Island, and then enjoyed lunch at the ‘3-Day Diner’, complete with retro music, at Bellevue Park.

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After lunch and a stop by the Paradise themed pit stop, it was off to Mile 14.5, where walkers posed at the beautiful Bellevue Botanical Gardens. Into Redmond, we got a little more pep in our step from an energetic cheering station at Idylwood Park, complete with spectators handing out delicious snacks and holding heartfelt signs. After 22.9 miles, we arrived into camp at the gorgeous Marymoor Park, where the sea of pink tents popped against the blue and orange sunset. We got to meet Seattle’s top fundraisers, played a few games with our friends at Bank of America, and heard an inspirational story from Survivor Dottie C. We headed to bed empowered by the reminders of why we walk.

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Seattle’s characteristic gray skies set the scene for Day 2, but the gray cloud clover was appreciated as walkers embarked on the 20.8-mile route. At Mile 5.6, the Lake Washington Waterfront featured pit stop 2, also an amazing photo opportunity as walkers said ‘Cheese’ with passing boats in the background. At Heritage Park, cheerleaders created an enthusiastic tunnel of sparkly pink pom-poms. The community came out in full support, some serving handmade snacks like cream-cheese stuffed celery sticks, and some serving frozen Gatorade mocktails. At this point, the sun broke through the clouds, revealing a radiant blue sky, just in time for lunch under the trees at Juanita Beach Park. At Mile 20.8, walkers arrived home to camp, where they heard Sarah L. share her moving Survivor story, and series-walker William K. shared his many reasons why he walks.

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Day 3 began with a quick bus ride toward Seattle, and after 2.4 miles, walkers were treated with pit stop 1 at Gas Works Park, set against a sweeping view of the Seattle skyline. Then it was on to the Ballard Locks, a unique series of interlocking bridges between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal.

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The community, complete with dogs decked out in feather boas, and energetic cheerleaders, kept walkers going onwards to lunch, and then on to the majestic sights of Magnolia Viewpoint.

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At Mile 16.3, walkers celebrated their victory by heading back to the Seattle Center, rallied by the sights and sounds of hundreds of people in pink. As our crew, volunteers, wlkers, and survivors marched into the Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center, with the Space Needle standing proudly behind us, we were overcome with a fierce sense of dedication and triumph. With the help of 925 walkers and 275 crew, we raised $2.7 million dollars, and are now 3 days and 60 miles closer to the end of breast cancer forever. Thank you, Seattle.

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