Words to Encourage, Inspire and Motivate – A 3-Day Guest Blog

Today, we’d like to share a message from Lorraine H., Deputy Fire Chief for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and Susan G. Komen San Diego’s 2014 Honorary Breast Cancer Survivor.

susan g.  komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog lorraine survivor san diego fire departmentAs Susan G. Komen San Diego’s 2014 Honorary Breast Cancer Survivor for the Susan G. Komen San Diego Race for the Cure®on November 2, and a Susan G. Komen 3-Day walker, it is my goal to bring awareness to this disease. The critical message is that one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In addition, as an African American woman, I am concerned with the disparity that exists in African American women diagnosed with breast cancer compared to other races. Breast cancer in African American women is the most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer deaths. Although incidence rates are lower in African American women, the mortality rate is 41% higher than their Caucasian counterparts. I commend the Susan G. Komen California Coalition for recognizing this and taking action in the form of an initiative to address the disparities at both the system and individual levels.

susan g.  komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog lorraine survivor san diego fire departmentHaving survived breast cancer, it is my responsibility to give back to the community. If I can use my voice, my face, my story, my experience to get the message out about the benefits of early detection through mammograms and screenings while providing information about the resources that are available through Komen, then I believe that I will be doing what I’ve been called to do.

I hope by sharing my story I will do three things:

  1. ENCOURAGE women to advocate for their health. Women that are due for a mammogram must get one. We’ve all heard excuses such as “I don’t have time” or “it hurts.” None of these excuses are acceptable and none of them are worth dying for.

    My cancer was found through a mammogram. I could not feel a lump. I went in for my annual mammogram and soon after I was asked to return to the office for a follow-up. The message said it was nothing to worry about, so I didn’t. I didn’t return for a follow up until several months later. Because I did not have a family history of breast cancer, I thought I was not at risk. Fact is, data reports that 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.

    When I finally did return for a follow-up mammogram, and after a subsequent ultrasound and biopsy, I was devastated to learn four days later that I had breast cancer.

    I want women to learn from my experience and not make the same mistakes.

  1. INSPIRE women by sharing my cancer journey. Four months before being diagnosed with breast cancer, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes runs in my family. Devastated by this diagnosis and not wanting to go on diabetes medication or insulin, I chose to go through a medically supervised weight loss program. Six weeks into the program and after losing 35 pounds, I was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout my surgery, treatment and beyond, I have managed to maintain the weight loss by following a healthy diet and strict daily exercise regimen. Because of the lifestyle I’ve chosen, I am proud to say that I am diabetes and cancer-free!
  2. MOTIVATE everyone regardless of the challenges or adversities you face, to focus on the positive and always try to do WHAT YOU CAN DO to BE THE BEST THAT YOU CAN BE every single day. Going through tough times builds inner strength and character. I have been a firefighter for 24 years and advanced through the ranks from firefighter to deputy chief. Those are significant accomplishments, by anyone’s standards, for an African American woman in a predominantly male profession. However, nothing compares to the accomplishment of surviving breast cancer.

    With the help of God, my doctors and my support network, I fought cancer and won. My mantra throughout my journey was “I will come out on the other end of this a better person.” I have, but I’m not done. It’s a continuous process and I choose to make the most out of every day.

My one-year cancer journey culminated by successfully finishing the 2013 Komen 3-Day in San Diego. It was seven months after my last chemotherapy treatment, and I was still suffering from some side effects. Despite that, nine amazing friends (fellow firefighters and friends) finished every step of the 60-mile journey by my side. Between team members and supporters we had more than 20 people rooting for us – as well as the entire San Diego community! We couldn’t have done it without them.

susan g.  komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog lorraine survivor san diego fire departmentThe feeling of accomplishment was amazing and giving back in such a bold way was even more rewarding than I could have ever expected. As I stepped into PETCO Park at the end of the walk, I was overwrought with emotion. It felt as though all of my suffering, physically and emotionally, was over and I could begin my life anew. I’ve always wanted to do the 3-Day but, like many others, the fundraising daunted me.

The entire group of 11 walkers raised the money through multiple FUNdraisers. I emphasize FUN because we really did have a good time raising money together. Our 3-Day team continues to grow this year and we all have people we are walking for.

This is a cause I truly believe in and as long as my legs can walk, this is how I will pay it forward. I knew I would do the 3-Day one day but nobody knew how soon and under what circumstances it would finally become my reality!

 

 

The Emotional Journey of the 3-Day Fundraiser

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is an experience which elicits deep and profound emotional responses at every turn. For most Komen 3-Day walkers, the emotional journey begins as soon as they register and are faced with the challenge of raising $2300. Join us as we dissect the phases of feelings that the average 3-Day® fundraiser goes through.

Anxiety susan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising

How am I going to raise all that money? Will I have enough time? What if no one donates to me? The beginning of the fundraiser’s journey is often fraught with stomach-churning apprehension. It’s totally normal. Raising $2300 is a big challenge, and it deserves a respectful degree of trepidation.

Resolvesusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising resolve

The good news is, for most fundraisers, the anxiety phase is quickly pushed aside by a firm resolve to get the job done. You realize that any fear you’re feeling about fundraising is nothing compared to the terrifying reality of a breast cancer diagnosis, and you are soon ready to move beyond the worry and get to work.

Excitementsusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising excitement

Once you’ve dug in your heels and determined that failure is not an option, the fun starts. There are literally hundreds of ways that a 3-Day walker can raise money, and figuring out which strategies will work best is an exciting prospect. Should I organize a fundraising event? I wonder how much money I could raise just by recycling cans and bottles… Hey, my brother works for a company that does matching gifts! Even if your go-to tactic is as simple as sending an email to your friends and family, you will feel a special thrill in expressing your reasons for walking and your anticipation about the 60-mile journey. You will be eager to invite your friends and family to join you in the voyage.

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

So you’ve hit “Send” on your fundraising emails, and now…you wait. Waiting can be stressful, but remember that the fundraiser’s journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take time for those donations to roll in, so be patient. Give it a week or two, then send a follow-up.

Inspirationsusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising inspiration

And oh, when the donations come it, how sweet it is! There’s nothing quite like the delight of getting those notification emails letting you know that you’ve received a new donation. Your hard work is paying off, and with every new donation, your faith in humanity is confirmed. You’ll find yourself surprised and overwhelmed by the generosity that can come from sometimes the most unexpected places.

Gratitudesusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising gratitude

The appreciation that the fundraiser feels for his/her donors is as sincere an emotion as they come. With every step you take on your 60-mile adventure, you carry your donors with you.

 

Fundraising for the 3-Day is emotional, make no doubt about it. If you ever feel overwhelmed by any of these emotions, call the coaches at 800-996-3DAY. We’ve all been there, and we will always be there for you – to work through your worries, to overcome your obstacles, and to celebrate your victories.

What emotions have you experienced as a 3-Day fundraiser?

3-Day Guest Post – A Mother’s Day Training Walk

Liz P. is a blogger on the lifestyle blog “Prior Fat Girl”. She is also a mom and a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker, and she joins us today for a guest post.

I’ve been training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® for a few months now, although training has been somewhat limited since I lead a busy life (but really, who doesn’t?). So last week, when we hit the 16-week mark I bumped my training walks up. I am still not perfectly following the plan but I am making an effort each day.

According to the 16-week suggested training schedule, Mother’s Day called for a 5-mile walk and to be honest, I was not in the mood. After all it was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to relax. I also felt guilty for spending time away from my family on such a family-focused day.

I had to work that morning and then we headed to my in-laws’ house for the rest of the day. But I planned ahead and I brought my walking gear along so I would be prepared to go for a walk. (My Mother’s Day gift was even a hydration belt for my training!) After lunch and a nap with my baby, I knew that it was time to head off for a walk. In fact, I had cut it a bit too close to do a full 5 miles, but I did not let that stop me from doing something.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk liz paul prior fat girl training

Though rain was in the forecast it was a beautiful spring day in MN. There was a brisk wind that was both warm and cool at the same time. Flowers were blooming and lots of people were out enjoying the precious sunshine. Leaving my kids in their grandparents care, I headed out.

As I walked on Mother’s Day I thought about my Grandma – Ruth Ann Mercer. She died when I was a teenager after 8 years of breast cancer and then other types as it metastasized. My Grandma was an amazing woman. She went to college in her 50s because she’d always regretted not being able to go when she was young. She majored in philosophy!

She did not let anything stop her when she set her mind to something, which is part of the reason I believe she lived for 8 years with breast cancer. In the end it was her decision to stop treatment and I remember gathering with her for our last goodbyes. In many ways I was too young to really understand her choice at the time, and had no real insight to ask to hear her stories and knowledge. I wish I could know that now. I miss her.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk liz paul prior fat girl grandmother

With each step on Sunday, I thought about my Grandma. I thought about the chocolate chips she kept in the pots and pans drawer in her house, in case of an emergency chocolate fix. I thought about how she could sew anything out of anything. I thought about learning to play Gin Rummy with her.

And I thought about how I am not able to introduce her to my new daughter or how I cannot take a 4-generation picture of the strong women in my family because of breast cancer. But perhaps my daughter will see breast cancer eradicated in her lifetime, or perhaps I’ll see it myself. I walk because I want people to know their grandmas.

I didn’t quite manage the full 5 miles. I made it 3 miles before rain and the promise of Mother’s Day dinner at the in-laws beckoned. I didn’t manage every step, but I did get out there and I trained. Training is hard as a mother of two young children. Training is hard when holding a full-time job. Training is hard because it is hard. But it is not as hard as cancer.

So I walk on Mother’s Day to train for 60 miles. I walk for my Grandma. I walk for my daughter’s future.