Always Faithful – An Inspiring Story of One Flag, Two Men and the 3-Day

In November 2013, when I walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in San Diego, my teammate and I were approaching a pit stop on the first day when we spotted a flag fluttering up ahead. Flags are a common sight on the Komen 3-Day, as walkers carry dozens of tall pink banners on the route, encouraging each other with their phrases of inspiration. But this was a flag that wasn’t so common on the 3-Day® – this was a full-sized American flag being carried by two men.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk san diego american flag marinesWhen we got closer, I got a better look at the pair. They wore matching pink socks and pink t-shirts with a beautiful young woman’s picture on them. We stopped and my teammate asked if she could take their photo (as many other walkers were doing, too), then we moved on. I spotted them a few more times throughout the weekend—they were hard to miss, with the Stars and Stripes always flying over their shoulders—but didn’t really get their story until months later, when I was thinking about how to commemorate Independence Day on the 3-Day blog. I immediately thought, “What about those guys in San Diego who carried the flag?”

We did a little research and discovered that “those guys” are Bob and Rob H., a father and son from Southern California. Both men were first-time walkers in San Diego last year, taking part in the 3-Day in support of Heather, the woman whose picture they wore on their shirts. Heather is Bob’s daughter and Rob’s sister, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2013 at the age of 38.

Rob shared, “She had started undergoing treatment last summer, and we wanted to raise money for [Susan G. Komen®] because we were impressed with their use of the money over other charities (large percentage going towards research and offsetting expenses for those that can’t afford things associated with treatment, insurance, various other expenses, etc.). We wanted to contribute to the effort.”

And what about the flag? Heather told us, “My brother has been a competitive runner for many years. He has done triathlons, Ironman and Ultraman races. When he does his races he is always carrying the American flag. My family is a military family. My dad is a retired Marine of 30 years, my brother Rob is an active duty Marine and my husband is also an active duty Marine.”

Rob added, “Being Marines and proud patriots, my dad and I carried the American flag to foster camaraderie, motivation and inspiration to our fellow walkers. No matter what is going on in the world, everybody gets behind a flying American flag!”

Bob and Rob will not be walking this year (Rob is in the process of moving to the East Coast on new military orders), but Heather will carry on the legacy that her family started last year and will walk in her first 3-Day this November in San Diego as a proud survivor.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk san diego marines american flag

Heather’s team, appropriately, is Team Semper Fi.

Semper Fi is short for “Semper Fidelis,” the motto of the U.S. Marines. Translated, it means “Always Faithful.” I can’t think of a more perfect name for a family who came together and endured the fear and pain of a breast cancer diagnosis, stepped up to it and walked 60 miles toward a cure, all the while maintaining faith in the power of pink, under the colors of red, white and blue.

thomas jefferson walking quote komen 3 day breast cancer walk 60 miles

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 ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day – Part 3

It’s time for Part 3 of the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. This special alphabet is made up of 26 people, places or things you’ll encounter on the Komen 3-Day. Check out Part 1 (Letters A – D) here, Part 2 (Letters E – H) here, and don’t forget to share your ideas for each letter here on the 3-Day blog or with us on Facebook. You can also help us spread the word about the 3-Day® by pinning these images on Pinterest. The more people who learn about the 3-Day, the more we can make a difference in the fight to end breast cancer forever.

Inspiration Susan G Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk Rainbow

On the 3-Day, inspiration is all around you. Every mile is filled with stories, laughter, hope and crazy costumes. From the community cheering stations to the colorful pit stops, from a child on the side of the road holding up a “thank you” sign to the woman walking next to you in a pink “Survivor” shirt – there are so many reasons to keep walking.

See also: Impact and Ice Pack 

Join a Team Susan G Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk

Next to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches, a team is the best support system you can have as you fundraise, train and walk all 60 miles on the road to end breast cancer forever. Whether you want to form a team, join a team or grow the team you already have, being a part of a team is always rewarding. See one team’s inspiring story by watching Team 211 on YouTube.

 

K is for Komen Susan G Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk

Susan G. Komen® is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $800 million in research and provided almost $1.7 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.

See also: Kick-off Event

L for Legacy Pins Susan G Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk

Legacy Pins are collectible pins, exclusive to the 3-Day. You can visit the Legacy Pin stop on Main Street to pick up any pins that you have earned throughout the year; at the very least, you get your Walker (or Crew) pin, but may also get pins for hitting fundraising milestones, 5- or 10-year walker-versaries, captaining a team, celebrating being a survivor, and more! Visit The3Day.org/Legacy for more information.

See also: Lounge 

 

What other people, places, or things would you pick for I, J, K and L? How about M, N, O and P? Share in the comments here or with us on Facebook or Twitter.