Congratulations to 2015 Twin Cities 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner: Jessica S.

For the 2015 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be featuring a new recognition on each Komen 3-Day event: the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to walkers or crew members who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® in their communities throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees are participants who go above and beyond with things like leading training walks, attending local events, supporting the local 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference in their 3-Day community by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

We’re pleased to share the Twin Cities 3-Day Local Impact award winner: Jessica Stockamp.

Jessica is walking in the Twin Cities 3-Day for the ninth year in a row and is returning as the captain of Team Jill, named after her dear friend who passed away from breast cancer in 2006, one day after her 31st birthday. Jessica saw a television commercial for the Twin Cities 3-Day shortly after Jill’s death, and recalls, “I felt so helpless in watching her lose her battle in the end and I figured it was the least I could do to help another person never have to say good-bye like I did. I called my friend, Darcy and she signed up to walk with me; she never even hesitated. All these years later the team has grown and changed and no one has ever regretted saying yes to walking, crewing or stalking. I have to say I am surrounded by some awesome, inspiring and loving people. I am truly blessed!”

Team Jill, with Jessica holding the N

Team Jill, with Jessica holding the N

The impact Jessica has had in the Twin Cities 3-Day community is far-reaching. Over the last nine years, Jessica has recruited dozens of Team Jill team members (as a team they have raised more than $157,000, including more than $28,000 credited to Jessica alone). She shared, “I don’t know if you should call it recruiting or just talking about my dedication and passion for this…. I’ve had people call me over the years to find out about the 3-Day. I’ll often spend over an hour telling them about my experience and then they sign up! I remember the first year not knowing what it meant to be a team since there were only two of us and then some years having a team of 25 and trying to make a connection with each of them because I wanted them to take away all the positive feelings I have.”

Jessica is also a visible 3-Day advocate around town. At a team fundraising event in the community, a recently-diagnosed woman approached Jessica and thanked her for all of her years of 3-Day participation. “It’s always hard to take the compliment because I feel like I am just walking. They have the hard job of fighting!”

On the 2015 Twin Cities 3-Day, Jessica’s influence touched especially close to home. “This year I have my twin daughters participating with me in the Young Women Walking program. They have watched me walk for eight years and it’s pretty exciting to see that they are able to join me on my 9th year walking.”TC Local Impact Jessica Stockamp and daughters

Jessica calls the 3-Day inspiring, emotional and challenging, and advises her fellow walkers to always bring with them “Good socks and shoes, and a sense of humor. Talking makes the time go by fast, and so does singing—I love to sing! Not sure if my team likes my songs but you can throw out any word and I can sing you a song with that word in it.”

But for all the laughter and songs, the real power behind Jessica’s 3-Day journey always comes back to Jill. “She told us when she was dying that we should never worry about missing her because she would always be with us. She said when we found a dime to think of her and we would know she was watching over us. Team Jill has had many dime sightings and we have shared that story for the past 9 years with other walkers along the route. Finding the dimes is so comforting because watching her suffer was one of the hardest things to see.”

Jessica leaves us with these final thoughts: “I have so much support from my friends and family and I look forward to the 3-Day weekend with them, having one goal in mind­­–finding a cure! We all do things in our everyday lives that we hope matters; this is what I believe I can do to make a difference.”

Thank you, Jessica, for your passionate dedication to the 3-Day and your unwavering commitment to putting an end to breast cancer. We’re proud to have you as part of our family.

Promise Ribbons: Tying Together Wishes, Hopes and Dreams

We’re so excited to share a new tradition for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® that debuted in Michigan this past weekend: promise ribbons. Borrowing from the Brazilian ritual of fitas, or wish ribbons, these colorful bands are tied to a person’s wrist in three knots, with the wearer making a special wish or promise as each knot is tied. On the Komen 3-Day, we tie knots to honor the past, create hope for the future and celebrate the steps we’re taking today to end breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day Promise Ribbons

Introducing the 3-Day Promise Ribbons

We’re encouraging participants to collect multiple ribbons throughout the 3-Day® and tie them to their wrists or clothing. Walkers and crew members are also encouraged to give the ribbons away to each other or to supporters along the route to symbolize the promises we are making to ourselves and to each other.

We will have eight differently colored ribbons. Four of those will be passed out at specific locations–Opening Ceremony, the entrance to camp on Friday, the entrance to camp on Saturday and at the Participant Finish Area. White ribbons will be available in the Remembrance Tent.

Three other ribbons will be passed out by various groups and people on the 3-Day. Light pink strands will be passed out by Chrissy Mathews from Susan G. Komen®3-Day spokesperson Dr. Sheri, and the local 3-Day staff members. Yellow ribbons will be shared by members of the Youth Corps and blue ribbons will be passed out by the crew in camp and on the route.

Collect all varieties of the 3-Day Promise Ribbons

Collect all varieties of the 3-Day Promise Ribbons

We invite everyone in our 3-Day family to express their own wishes and to put them into action by collecting these ribbons at stops along your journey. Exchange them with others as you share your stories. Post images of your promise ribbons and your messages of hope on social media with the hashtag #3DayPromise.

Our promise ribbons, visible and vibrant throughout each 3-Day event weekend, will create a living “patchwork quilt.” Like each of us, these promise ribbons are individual threads, but when we weave our wishes, hopes, dreams and promises together, we create a greater fabric of unimaginable strength.

Join us, and share your promises in the comments below.

“I didn’t have to watch anymore. I could walk.” – A Guest Post

For Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker Carly M., walking has become a powerful tool for healing. She shares her story with us.

“From the time I was 13, cancer was a common term in my house. My youngest sister had leukemia when she was 9, underwent different kinds of chemotherapy for two and a half years, and beat it. It was my junior year of high school, and for a year, we were a normal family again. No cancer treatments.

“Then, the summer before my senior year in high school, a week before I turned 17, my mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. The doctor had originally told her it was a breast infection because it presented as a red, inflamed breast. No lump. Not the normal presentation for breast cancer. She had breastfed her five children, and the youngest was in 8th grade, so she obviously was not breastfeeding anymore and an infection seemed unlikely. Frustrated, she indulged the doctor and treated it as a breast infection for a week but when nothing changed, she went back and told him to figure out what it actually was. After many tests, they determined it was inflammatory breast cancer. They said that if she had not come in when she did, she would have only survived six more months. IBD is a very aggressive form of breast cancer, the five-year survival rate at that time was not great. Today it is still not amazing; depending on stage when diagnosed (this form is usually a stage III or IV upon diagnosis) and estrogen receptor status, it can be as low as a 34% five-year survival rate.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 mile walk blog mom

Baby Carly and her mom, Joan

“At the age of 49, with five kids ranging in age from 13- 21, my mom was not ready to throw in the towel. Over the next 10 months, she underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy, a stem cell transplant and radiation. It was a harrowing year but we all made it through, thinking at the end that maybe we had beaten the odds. I graduated from high school and chose a university close to home to be able to help if needed.

“In January of that next year, my mom had a re-occurrence in her spine; the cancer had metastasized to her bones. For the next four years, we played a balancing game of radiation and chemotherapy, trying to keep the level of cancer cells in her blood low and zapping the sites where they landed.

“I graduated from college in May of 1999 and moved back home. My mom died in July, two weeks after my birthday. I was able to be there those last two months and help where I could. I still have many regrets about that time. I regretted the selfish things a college student does instead of spending time with their mom. I wish I had told her more often what an amazing mom she was to me. I wish I had reassured her that it was enough, that everything she had done for us was enough. But at 22, those words escaped me. And hindsight is always much clearer than when you are in it.

“I started walking in the 3-Day that next year. A very good friend of mine saw that I was floundering and found a way to give my emotions an outlet. This walk became one of the best things I could do for myself. The thing with cancer is it makes you feel helpless. You watch your mom become weak, her body a shell of what it once was. You watch her cry, giving her comfort when you can. You watch her throw up, again and again, and all you can do is give her a bowl and hold her hair. You watch her tell you she is not ready to die, and all you can do is cry with her. You watch.

“But with the 3-Day, I didn’t have to watch anymore. I could walk. I could fundraise. I could talk with other men and women who had experienced similar things. I could see the early detection programs that have been funded by the 3-Day. I could meet the women who are alive because they got treatment before their cancer had advanced. I could experience firsthand the good that the 3-Day can do. And it’s a lot of good. And I could walk some more. I didn’t have to watch anymore. I didn’t have to feel helpless anymore.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 mile walk blog mom

Carly, now a mom herself, walks in the hopes that her kids won’t have to experience the pain she did.

“I know we haven’t found a cure yet, but to me, knowing that some children don’t have to say goodbye to their moms too soon is enough. And so I walk.”

Carly will be walking in her 8th 3-Day event next month in Michigan.