There Are No Words…

On the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, breast cancer survivors are always close to our hearts and bright in our thoughts. They are reminders of the great strength and courage that can grow out of horrible adversity, and they are proof that what we are doing matters.

Every survivor has a story and I was inspired to learn about Krissie, a 6-time walker, and 6-time cancer survivor.

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“I was first diagnosed with sarcoma cancer of the abdominal wall at the age of 15. I had several recurrences over the next few years and was finally cancer-free at 19.”

Krissie got married, had kids and thought that cancer was far in her rearview. Being a survivor, she was passionate about doing something that mattered. She saw a commercial for the Komen 3-Day in January of 2008 and thought, “That is exactly what I need to do. I thought, what an amazing event and it was my time to do something.”

But right around that time, while doing a self-exam, Krissie found a lump in her left breast. “I was 28 and we didn’t think the lump was anything to worry about until they got in there and discovered that it was cancer, and that it was in my lymph nodes as well. So they removed the lump along with a bunch of lymph nodes. At 28 I didn’t think I had to worry about breast cancer, especially with no family history. I started chemotherapy treatment and began the healing process.” Part of that healing came from the 3-Day.  “I had no idea that the 3-Day would become even more meaningful than I knew possible. I believe that everything happens for a reason and without this walk I would not be here.”

During her very first 3-Day in Chicago, Krissie met Lori and Kim. “We are all pretty fast walkers, and as we walked we started talking and talking and talking. We finished that walk that year and did not see each other until the next Chicago 3-Day, but when we did, it was immediately as if we had never been apart. That was the year that we realized that this was not just a ‘walk’ friendship but a lifelong friendship. We always say that something so horrible is what brought us so close, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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Lori, Kim and Krissie

I asked Krissie what advice she would give to new walkers. “The first time I walked, I was terrified that I would not finish. I was undergoing treatment at the time and had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that this walk would change my life forever. The walkers, the community and the amazing volunteers helped me finish my first walk with a new sense of strength and hope. My advice for first-time walkers would be to take it all in. Don’t miss a thing. It’s going to be a hard and tiring 3 days but it’s also going to be the most amazing 3 days of your life. Listen to the stories. Laugh with new friends. Cry with others. Enjoy every second and don’t rush through it!”

Krissie, Lori and Kim—or KLK, as their team is called—have walked together every year since 2008, and are traveling to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day this November. “They have been there every step of the way. There was a year that I was not able to walk and those girls walked every mile for me. It was a gift that will stay with me forever.”

“There are no words for the support I have gotten from my family and friends. My husband has been my rock. He has seen more than any husband should. He has wiped my tears, held my hand and picked me up off the ground. I have been blessed to be surrounded by an amazing family who has supported me every step of the way. I have always said that I have no idea what it must be like on their side, the fear that they must have, but I continue to get strength and hope from them every day. They let me get mad and they let me cry. They make me smile when I don’t want to. My teammates show me the light at the end of the tunnel.  We will continue to walk together for as long as we can.”

I also asked Krissie what her relationship with other survivors has been like. “I have met so many amazing people along the way. I have heard stories that have given me the strength to go on, to keep fighting. Many I keep in contact with, and some I have lost along the way. There is a moment at the end of the walk when all the survivors are in their pink shirts and it’s as if we have all been there for each other the entire time. photo(37)

“You gain a new family.”

 

Make the Susan G. Komen 3-Day a part of your family. Visit The3Day.org for information.

 

Dressing for Success on the 3-Day

Choosing what to wear on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® can be a big decision. Keep some important tips in mind when deciding on your duds.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Looking good, feeling good!

Comfort First – For many walkers, the Komen 3-Day is a chance to show their amazing enthusiasm with costumes, team t-shirts or matching outfits. We love seeing you strut your 3-Day spirit, but we strongly advise you to consider comfort before flair. Even if you’re speedy, walking 20 miles will take you, at minimum, 5-6 hours and even longer if your pace is slower. Don’t dress in something that you won’t be comfortable wearing for the long haul. (If you want some inspiration for costumes, whether you’re looking for creativity or comfort, check out our “Best Dressed” Pinterest board!)

Layers, Layers, Layers – Each day of walking will start quite early in the morning, when it still may be chilly out. You will warm up quickly once you start moving, but we recommend that you cover yourself in layers that are easy to remove when your core temperature starts to rise. If a cold snap happens to hit during your 3-Day, you can certainly bundle yourself up a little more, but don’t wear more than you’d be willing to carry once it comes off.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Keeping cool with layers

Not in Cotton – This cozy fabric is great for a PJs or a t-shirt to lounge around camp in, but when it comes to walking, cotton is not always the best choice, especially if you sweat a lot. Clothing made of 100% cotton absorbs moisture and holds it, so if it’s particularly hot and you’re perspiring, your comfy cotton will get wet and heavy quickly. Damp clothing leads to uncomfortable friction against your skin, which leads to chafing (no fun to talk about, and even less fun to experience) and blisters.

Get Wicked – You can keep yourself as dry and comfy as possible by wearing clothing made with moisture-wicking materials. These synthetic fabrics draw moisture away from your body ( “wick” it away) and towards the exterior of the garment, which, for reasons mentioned above, is much better than having that dampness right next to your skin. Look for clothes that are a polyester blend, or check the tags for “moisture wicking” descriptions.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Comfort and style can live happily together on the 3-Day!

Splurge on Socks – Take care in choosing all of your 3-Day apparel, but if you can only focus on one item, make it your socks. Get socks that fit your feet snugly, but still allow you to wiggle your toes. If you like short ankle socks, make sure they’re not so short that they slip down into your shoes when you move. And absolutely heed the above advice about which fabrics to choose. You’ll also want to bring extra socks, so you can change into a fresh, clean pair at mid-day each day.

Test Your Threads – Training is an essential practice for getting your body ready to walk all those miles, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to “test drive” what you plan to wear on the 3-Day. Narrow down your attire choices early on, and then train in them. If that cute pink top you picked up bleeds color, or those knee socks make your legs itch, or the shorts you love for tennis tend to…ahem…bunch up, you’ll want to know that before you realize you’re stuck in them for another 18 miles.

3-Day walkers: What’s been your favorite piece of clothing or gear to wear on the 3-Day? Let us know in the comments.

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Over, But Not Ending

Picture yourself at mile 59.

Can you really be this close to the end of your Susan G. Komen 3-Day®? Your weary feet and legs say yes, but your heart says no way. It feels as though Friday morning—when you arrived in the pre-dawn darkness, dropped off your bag, met up with your teammates and felt the sun rise over the beautiful Opening Ceremony before taking your first steps—was an eternity ago. And yet, you can’t believe it’s almost over. These brief few days have been packed with so many memories and experiences that as you near the finish line, you find yourself overwhelmed with emotion once again.

San Diego Day 3I’ve crossed the finish line as a Komen 3-Day walker fourteen times, and the impact of that one simple experience is as strong and profound now as it was the first time. Back then, my emotional response to completing the 3-Day® was mostly based on the personal amazement and pride that I felt over physically accomplishing the 60-mile walk. But in the many years since then, the impassioned response I feel as I finish the 3-Day is so much more than “I did it!” It’s also, “Look at all of these people who did it!”

I look around at the faces of my fellow walkers and crew members. I see journeys that are so much longer and greater than three days.

I see young people who had to learn about the devastation of cancer too early in their lives…

Philadelphia Day 3…older people who have seen so much in their lifetimes and wear their years like a badge of honor…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.…parents who would walk 60,000 miles if it meant making the world a little safer for the children who run to hug them at the finish line…

302378_10151152095315281_518684367_n373926_10151152095465281_1741680733_n…daughters and sons who, in 72 hours of their lives, learned a lifelong lesson about just how much power one person can have as a force for good in the world…

Arizona Day 3…friends who helped and supported each other in ways that go deeper than mere friendship…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Washington DC 3-Day Day 3Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.…determined fighters, taped up like mummies, who pile out of a sweep van 2 blocks from the end just so they can cross the finish line on their own two throbbing feet…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.…survivors who once felt crushed under the words, “You have breast cancer,” now marching forward in proud defiance, as if to shout back, “It didn’t defeat me!”

San Diego Day 3

I see true heroes.

I link arms with my teammates, all of us in some combined state of crying/laughing/cheering/limping and we cross together.

The walk is over, but the energy is sustained here in the Participant Finish Area. There’s music and noise and flowers, non-stop cheering and a long “human tunnel” of fellow walkers who have already made it to the end, and choose to STILL be on their feet—giving individual high fives to ever single new walker who comes in. Washington DC 3-Day Day 3My teammates and I give each other hugs, find a bathroom (some things never change…), pick up our Victory T-shirts, take more pictures, join the others in cheering the finishing walkers in and eventually find a place to sit and take off our shoes for a few minutes (but also, get up and dance when a song we like comes on). Soon, we will be lining up and processing out of this waiting area and into the Closing Ceremony.

1150967_10151854241466535_161301376_nThe march into Closing is a victory parade, and the streets are lined with the loved ones who supported us and our fellow walkers the other 362 days of the year. People hold up signs, take pictures and videos, and point with excitement when they see their walker going by. There are more hugs, more tears, and we’re not even into the Closing Ceremony yet!

Seattle Day 3Twin Day 3Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Once we do get into the Ceremony arena, Dr. Sheri greets us once more, with even more vibrancy and energy than she had 2 days ago, if you can believe it.

Philadelphia Day 3The Closing Ceremony, like so much of the 3-Day, is hard to put into words. It’s a celebration of all that we have achieved on our 3-Day journey. The walkers enter, followed by the crew, and then the survivors. In a beautifully moving tribute to this last group, everyone holds up a shoe. I love this part. This shoe salute wasn’t something that was scripted or prompted. It was a gesture that just started spontaneously somewhere along the way,  many years ago, and quickly became an honored tradition in every 3-Day city, another small example of what makes the 3-Day so special.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.The Closing Ceremony is a brief, moving end cap to a weekend celebrating the everyday pink warriors, who, for 3 days, went way above expectations, becoming true heroes in the lives of everyone touched by breast cancer.

1238205_10151854243176535_147237905_nThe walk is over, but the journey is not ending. I come back to the 3-Day every year because our work isn’t done, and because those 3 days are like fill-up for my soul. Like me, you will take all of the things you have experienced in these unforgettable 3 days and carry them with you into the world. And the world will be better for it.

And with that, our Insider’s Guide series comes to an end too. I’ve done my little part to give you lots of details about what to expect on the 3-Day, but it’s impossible for me to capture what the whole experience will be like for you. One “insider’s” view may be different from another’s, but the overall theme is the same – the 3-Day changes your life, in ways that no one but you can know.

We hope you will join us.

If you haven’t committed to the 3-Day yet, do it today! The discounted registration fee of $50 expires at 11:55 p.m. tomorrow, February 28.