The First-Timers’ Guide to the 3-Day is a series featuring blog posts from three brand new Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walkers (Sheilla, Jodie and Crystal). We met the First-Timers earlier this month, and now they’re back to tell us about how they got involved with the Komen 3-Day, and what compelled them to finally say yes and sign up to walk for the first time. Sheilla shared her story yesterday (see it here), and today, we’re happy to hear from Jodie.
Jodie (Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day)
Participating in the 3-Day® has intrigued me for a number of years. Jean, a dear family friend, took part in this 60 miles of pink (her fave color) several times even though neither she, nor her family, were physically touched by breast cancer. However, she was emotionally touched by the women and men affected by the disease. Jean repeatedly asked me to join her on this endeavor, but I was intimidated by the distance and by the amount of money that needed to be raised, so I declined. Sadly, I will never experience walking with Jean for 20 miles over 3 days. Her generous spirit reached to many facets of her life; while volunteering in a free eye clinic in Haiti with her longtime employers, she perished from injuries sustained in the 2010 earthquake.
Walking the Komen 3-Day with Jean became a heartbreaking lost opportunity, but other doors to the 3-Day continued to open to me. Belinda, one of my Pink Sistas, walked the 3-Day last year, and asked me to walk with her. My hesitations to join the event remained the same: too much walking and too much money to raise. However, when I viewed Belinda’s photos on social media documenting the 3-Day, I SO wanted to be a part of it; her smile said it all! I did not want to be apart from this event any longer. I began to give it serious thought. If I joined the 2015 3-Day, I would be walking it as a 12-year breast cancer survivor. I am not into numerology, but one of my favorite numbers is 12: I was born on the 12th of October, I was married on the 12th of June. I just like the number 12. I had convinced myself that I could do this! One week after Belinda posted those pictures of her and her fellow walkers—images of dedication, pride, strength and lots of pink, I registered online for the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day in November of 2015, where I will walk during my 12th year of survivorship!
I still worry that I am behind on my fundraising; I have emails and letters still to compose and send. I also fear that I’m behind on my training, as I experienced a pulled muscle, the pain and location of which had me overly concerned. On top of that, I’m currently home for a few days, with four prescriptions, and bronchitis. I promise, I truly believe I am younger than I actually am! But I know that these are just minor setbacks, and that my fundraising and training will resume.
When I signed up last November, I did so individually. In February, I was invited to a 3-Day meet-up, where I met Coach Gayla (what an asset to the 3-Day she is!) and some incredibly inspiring walkers, and at that meeting, I found myself being recruited to join the Boxing Babes team. I am extremely impressed with the many opportunities, for individuals and team members alike, to take part in meet-ups, trainings for walking and fundraising, and the varied fundraising events.
Like my fellow pink enthusiasts Jean, Belinda, and my other Pink Sistas, I have close connections to breast cancer as well. I began getting mammograms in my 30s, and on August 8, 2003, during a routine mammogram, I was called back twice for additional views. Further screening confirmed Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Facing this diagnosis, I never thought, “Why me?” Rather, considering the statistics, I thought, “Why NOT me?” Luckily, my breast cancer was caught early, was small, and was treatable. But my connections with breast cancer go so much further than my own diagnosis. Nearly a decade after my diagnosis, my youngest sister Kellie called (from her home eight hours away) to tell me, “I have breast cancer.” It was exponentially more difficult hearing those words from her, 10.5 years younger than myself, than from my physician. When I was the patient, I knew what I had to do; my medical team and I had a plan, etc. With her, I felt helpless and so wanted to take it all away from her! Beyond that, my paternal aunt had breast cancer in her late 60s, and courageously fought for twelve years with several recurrences. Another aunt, by marriage, had breast cancer in her mid-60s. A dear childhood friend had breast cancer in her 30s with two young children under the age of two. An older neighbor had breast cancer. I’ve known several men who have had breast cancer (one 30+ years ago, when my father told us the man had “chest cancer,” because no one spoke of the disease in women, much less in men). Many co-workers and their relatives have had breast cancer. Women with whom I have worshipped, have been diagnosed, and countless current Pink Sistas I’ve met through Survivor/Thriver events have experienced various diagnostic procedures, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormonal treatments.
You may have heard those four little words from a loved one or friend. And even if you haven’t yet, you may, as one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. For all the times I wished I could do something, or something MORE, or wanted to, but lacked the confidence, I did finally accept the 3-Day challenge, for all of the above reasons, and missed opportunities.
Tomorrow, our third First Timer, Crystal, will tell about how and why she got involved with the 3-Day. Are you a first-timer too? Share your story in comments!