To our 3-Day Family: What Gives You Strength?

Every day, we’re moved by the amazing people in our Komen Family who exhibit such passionate and dedicated displays of strength. While we celebrate our 3-Day Family every day, this month, we’re highlighting what gives you strength. Together with Susan G. Komen®, we’ve asked several Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants in Seattle (and soon in Atlanta, Dallas / Fort Worth, and San Diego) to share what gives them strength. We invite you to do the same, by commenting here on the 3-Day blog or by sharing with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Follow along on the official Susan G. Komen Facebook page to see more stories like Darrell’s:

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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.”

 

A Journey of Strength, Purpose and Inspiration – by Guest Blogger Nikia B.

In July, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day coach Gayla emailed me some pictures from a walk-and-talk she had just done with a first-time walker named Nikia B. The photos showed Gayla and Nikia posing with the the various Komen 3-Day posters they spotted as they enjoyed a 5+ mile stroll around a Dallas-area mall (ah, air conditioning!). Even before Gayla told me any details about Nikia or her story, I was struck by the images and Nikia’s energy. When Gayla later told me a little bit about Nikia, I knew we needed to have her tell her story – starting with her own breast cancer diagnosis at age 16, and leading all the way up to those poster photos in the mall. So we asked her, and she agreed! Prepare to be inspired by this amazing young woman.

We’re less than 90 days away from the Susan G. Komen Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and I could not be more excited to join the thousands of women and men who have experienced the pure magic of the Komen 3-Day. This year in particular will be special for me because it marks 20 years in my own battle against breast cancer.

In some ways it feels like only yesterday when I first encountered breast cancer at the age of 16. I’ll never forget the moment that I first felt that lump in my breast. No family history. No known patients or survivors in my life. I felt like a complete alien, and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I simply don’t have words for the fear and grief that tried to rob me of my youth. But recently, while out walking with Dallas/Fort Worth coach Gayla, I ran across a some 3-Day® posters in our local mall that reminded me of what pulled me through my journey, and what I hope to instill into others as I walk. The words that stood out on the posters were Strength, Purpose, and Inspiration.

Strength - The truth is, none of us really know what we’re made of until we’re put into a position to prove it. At the young age of 16, I was forced to make a decision to LIVE and not let my diagnosis define what kind of life I would have. The surgery, treatment and subsequent challenges were undeniably life-defining, but not necessarily in the way you might suppose. Up until the point of my diagnosis, I let life “happen to me,” but I quickly realized how precious life was, and it made me decide that I needed to be the one to make life happen. Somewhere along the way, I found the strength to set my own course and determine what future I wanted to see. Step by step, I’m seeing it unfold, indescribably and beautifully, before my eyes!

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Coach Gayla (left) with Nikia, a walking, talking image of strength

 

Purpose - There’s something about staring breast cancer in the face and living through it that made me realize that nothing about life is coincidental or absent of meaning. In fact, I realized quickly that starting from the moment of my diagnosis, I could find purpose in even the most challenging moments of my journey. We all can. Purpose helps us to define and find meaning in the situations and circumstances in our lives that would otherwise make us feel hopeless. Purpose helps us to channel our emotions and frustrations when life isn’t quite going our way and reminds us that what we’re going through educates, empowers and encourages someone else. In fact, I believe our greatest purpose is only realized when we’ve helped someone else get to the place that we’ve come through.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth purpose

 

Inspiration - I never would have climbed out of bed on the tough days if it weren’t for something nudging me, provoking me and inspiring me to find a reason to fight to see another day. For some, it’s a child, a loved one or spouse. For others it’s a spiritual power that centers and empowers them. Whatever the source, everyone needs to find their reason to keep going – it serves as fuel for uphill journeys and marathon missions. My inspiration was a combination of my faith and my family. My gratitude for my life and purpose in this world, motivated me to fight for my presence on this earth for years to come.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth inspiration

This November, when I embark upon my first-ever 3-Day, I will pull from all the strength, purpose and inspiration I have ever felt and received. I hope to channel it into every step I take, remembering the countless lives that have been lost to this horrible disease. But more than that, with every step I take, I will reflect on the incredible opportunity I’ve been given to use my life and experience to help others. I will walk with a renewed sense of my obligation to be a voice and a hope for those who have lost theirs along the way. I plan to walk every step of my 60-mile journey in appreciation of this wonderful thing called life–a life that I look forward to one day living in a world without breast cancer.

 

Thank you, Nikia! We look forward to sharing the 3-Day with you in November!