There Are No Words…

On the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, breast cancer survivors are always close to our hearts and bright in our thoughts. They are reminders of the great strength and courage that can grow out of horrible adversity, and they are proof that what we are doing matters.

Every survivor has a story and I was inspired to learn about Krissie, a 6-time walker, and 6-time cancer survivor.

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“I was first diagnosed with sarcoma cancer of the abdominal wall at the age of 15. I had several recurrences over the next few years and was finally cancer-free at 19.”

Krissie got married, had kids and thought that cancer was far in her rearview. Being a survivor, she was passionate about doing something that mattered. She saw a commercial for the Komen 3-Day in January of 2008 and thought, “That is exactly what I need to do. I thought, what an amazing event and it was my time to do something.”

But right around that time, while doing a self-exam, Krissie found a lump in her left breast. “I was 28 and we didn’t think the lump was anything to worry about until they got in there and discovered that it was cancer, and that it was in my lymph nodes as well. So they removed the lump along with a bunch of lymph nodes. At 28 I didn’t think I had to worry about breast cancer, especially with no family history. I started chemotherapy treatment and began the healing process.” Part of that healing came from the 3-Day.  “I had no idea that the 3-Day would become even more meaningful than I knew possible. I believe that everything happens for a reason and without this walk I would not be here.”

During her very first 3-Day in Chicago, Krissie met Lori and Kim. “We are all pretty fast walkers, and as we walked we started talking and talking and talking. We finished that walk that year and did not see each other until the next Chicago 3-Day, but when we did, it was immediately as if we had never been apart. That was the year that we realized that this was not just a ‘walk’ friendship but a lifelong friendship. We always say that something so horrible is what brought us so close, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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Lori, Kim and Krissie

I asked Krissie what advice she would give to new walkers. “The first time I walked, I was terrified that I would not finish. I was undergoing treatment at the time and had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that this walk would change my life forever. The walkers, the community and the amazing volunteers helped me finish my first walk with a new sense of strength and hope. My advice for first-time walkers would be to take it all in. Don’t miss a thing. It’s going to be a hard and tiring 3 days but it’s also going to be the most amazing 3 days of your life. Listen to the stories. Laugh with new friends. Cry with others. Enjoy every second and don’t rush through it!”

Krissie, Lori and Kim—or KLK, as their team is called—have walked together every year since 2008, and are traveling to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day this November. “They have been there every step of the way. There was a year that I was not able to walk and those girls walked every mile for me. It was a gift that will stay with me forever.”

“There are no words for the support I have gotten from my family and friends. My husband has been my rock. He has seen more than any husband should. He has wiped my tears, held my hand and picked me up off the ground. I have been blessed to be surrounded by an amazing family who has supported me every step of the way. I have always said that I have no idea what it must be like on their side, the fear that they must have, but I continue to get strength and hope from them every day. They let me get mad and they let me cry. They make me smile when I don’t want to. My teammates show me the light at the end of the tunnel.  We will continue to walk together for as long as we can.”

I also asked Krissie what her relationship with other survivors has been like. “I have met so many amazing people along the way. I have heard stories that have given me the strength to go on, to keep fighting. Many I keep in contact with, and some I have lost along the way. There is a moment at the end of the walk when all the survivors are in their pink shirts and it’s as if we have all been there for each other the entire time. photo(37)

“You gain a new family.”

 

Make the Susan G. Komen 3-Day a part of your family. Visit The3Day.org for information.

 

When a “Once in a Lifetime” Experience Turns Into a Yearly Tradition

Meet one of our amazing 3-Day multi-year participants, Sandra Chiesa. Sandra was the recipient of the 3-Day Milestone Award at the San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day in June. She will also be walking in the San Diego 3-Day in November. Her lifetime 3-Day achievements include walking in 12 events since 2003, and a combined 3-Day fundraising total of over $58,000. We caught up with Sandra and asked her to share her story. 

How was your first 3-Day of 2013?
“We were a small event, but we had a lot of heart! I had a great time and tried to savor every moment. I had such bittersweet emotions at Closing, knowing it was the last 3-Day in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

What inspired you to take your first 3-Day journey?
“I had a few reasons. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor. Secondly, a co-worker had passed away. Her death – and being so close to my age – emphasized how fragile and short life can be. I decided I wanted to do something bold. Something out of my comfort zone to celebrate life. When I heard the ads for the 3-Day and I thought, “Now there’s something out of my comfort zone!” I was not an active person then, so the thought of walking 60 miles coupled with the idea of fundraising were very daunting. But I also saw it as a win-win because I knew the money I was raising would make a difference! I signed up, not knowing anyone, but by the end of my first 3-Day I had many new friends. It was a very empowering experience on so many levels, and I think that is partly why I keep coming back! I want to help make a difference and hope one day we will live in a world where no one ever dies from breast cancer.”

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Remembering Bridget

The 2013 San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day was emotional to many participants for a multitude of reasons. For the 3-Day Staff, the memory of a fellow 3-Day coach – and friend – made the weekend even more poignant. One person in particular was in their hearts – Bridget Spence. Bridget had been a 3-Day coach and walker since 2006, and shared her very personal journey with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer with the world in her blog, My Big Girl Pants. Bridget passed away on April 4, 2013 and those who knew and loved her are facing their first 3-Day season without her. Coach Melissa Pinkney shared her thoughts and memories of Bridget.

When did you first meet Bridget?
“It was at the Boston 3-Day in 2011. Until that point, my only contact with Bridget was over the phone. In Boston, I remember how she came up to me like we had been friends for decades.”

What was it like to know her?
“She made you feel as though you were the most important person to her in that moment. She loved to fuss over people, make them smile, feel needed and comforted. With her, you always knew you were special.” Continue reading