A Survivor’s Story: Sherri O’Berry

Editor’s Note: Survivors are the heroes of the 3-Day, and we celebrate them with every step we take. Breast Cancer Awareness Month means not only talking about how we can save more lives, it means talking about the lives that have been saved. As you read this, the first of a set of stories about survivors, know that every dollar you raise for the 3-Day is helping to save lives like Sherri’s.


My name is Sherri O’Berry. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 1, 2013. I was only 42 years old. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage 2. The news was grim as I had lost both of my grandmothers to cancer (one to breast cancer) and only knew this disease to be a death sentence. I am a single mother raising three teenagers. When I was diagnosed, I was so afraid I would not be here to watch them grow up. How would they take the news? How could they live without me? Would I get to see them graduate? Get married? Know my grandchildren? I was so scared, in shock, denial, angry. The only thing I could do was make a plan to kick cancer’s butt!


Within 3 weeks of being diagnosed I was headed into surgery. I opted for a partial mastectomy. Following that surgery, I had another surgery to have my port put in and by October 1st, I was starting treatment. I had six rounds of intensive chemotherapy in 16 weeks. The next several months would determine my fate.

I lost my complete identity. Slowly, the chemo overtook my body. First my hair, then my eyebrows and lashes. I was devastated. Following my first treatment I was hospitalized because my body became so dehydrated and I was really sick. Following my second treatment, in the middle of the night I hit my head falling down the stairs and had to be hospitalized again. It was my 43rd birthday. This was definitely not where I had planned to be at this young age.

Following chemo, I was scheduled for 35 rounds of radiation. Radiation did not seem nearly as difficult as chemo but only time would tell. I had to be tattooed, marked, measured, and on camera day after day. Fatigue was taking its toll on me. The effects of chemo were lingering, as I was warned it would. On day 18 of 35 the Doctor made a choice to stop my radiation treatments because my blood levels were extremely low. Every day that passed at this point was making my previous treatments inactive. Whoa! What another blow! I was terrified.

Every second of every day was a roller coaster of emotions. Finally on April 20th 2014, I completed my 35th round of radiation. I was cancer free! Or was I? That is the question I asked myself over and over. Wasn’t there a test they could give me to tell if the cancerous cells were gone? No, I had to walk away confident that between my surgery and my treatments that I was now cancer free. I learned that being a “survivor” was being alive every day after diagnosis.

My family and friends embraced me tightly and we moved forward,  the only direction I chose to look! I was surrounded by an outpouring of support from everyone in the community. My dear friend set up a meal plan and people I didn’t even know were delivering hot meals daily during my treatments to feed me and my kids. Packages were arriving daily, flowers delivered and my friends put together a benefit for me and raised thousands of dollars for me. I could focus 100% on fighting this awful disease.

One day during my hospital visit someone told me about the Susan G Komen 3-Day. I knew immediately this was a way for me to give back. I was so extremely grateful to learn about all the people who had already been a part of the 3-Day. I started fundraising right away. The first year I walked with 2 dear friends, one of whom was also going through breast cancer treatment at the same time I was. The 2 of us still undergoing treatment were not even sure we would be healthy enough to walk by that August, but raising the money was more important to us than actually participating at that point. This became so important to me. I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted to help find a cure! I was so proud to be part of this movement that would help those diagnosed after me. I was hooked! Once I learned about the 3-Day Youth Corps, I knew right away that my girls would participate with me the following year.


As a family we started fundraising for the following year’s walk. We did so many bottle drives to collect money, we made crafts and sold them at craft shows, we were given private donations, Euchre Tournament, Dining for Dollars at a local restaurant and garage sales. The walk was not only about the three days, it was about paying it forward. Bonding with my girls. Making sure they understood exactly why we were doing everything we were doing.

Ten months later, it was time for the grand experience. I was so proud of my girls (ages 13 and 15), as they had become just a passionate as I was. The amazing weekend brought us even closer together. We were surrounded by so many other people that were affected by this awful disease and it was like our new extended family. My girls bonded so well with the other 18 kids in the Youth Corps that they have a close relationships that will likely last a lifetime. The weekend was life changing for all three of us. Both of my daughters had to speak in front of a group of 500+ people and explain how they have been affected by cancer.

This past August 2016 my older daughter (age 17) walked with me, and my younger daughter (age 15) was part of the Youth Corps again.

August 2017 will be another change for us, as my youngest is now old enough to join me as a walker. She is beyond excited and looking forward to the challenge.

I always say cancer was the best worst thing that has happened to me. My life has forever changed and I am forever grateful! The 3-Day will be part of my life until we find a cure.


2016 Philadelphia 3-Day Wrap-up

Folks who have walked in the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day before know that Mother Nature has not always been at her kindest during the Philadelphia event weekends. But for the 2016 Philly 3-Day, she decided to play extra nice and treat the 750 walkers and 275 crew members to a superbly beautiful weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. There was not a poncho to be seen when the 3-Dayers arrived on Friday morning to Opening Ceremony at Willow Grove Park Mall, and the pleasant weather was only the tip of the iceberg for the memorable three days ahead.

Amber Livingston from Susan G. Komen® welcomed everyone to the Opening Ceremony on Friday morning, and she was soon joined on stage by six Philadelphia 3-Day participants who shared their personal statements about why they are part of the 3-Day. img_1602 img_1797The 3-Day’s own beloved Dr. Sheri Prentiss also joined the Opening Ceremony, and all of these inspirational hosts pumped up the walkers and reminded us all of our shared goal: ending breast cancer forever. The inspiration level was raised even higher when we looked at the nine beautiful women who made up our Survivors’ Circle, and their bravery was the last little burst of invigoration that the walkers needed to set out onto the 60-mile road ahead.img_1795 img_1638

The walkers trekked through Willow Grove to reach their first pit stop at Ardsley Park in Glenside. The route continued to pass through lovely residential neighborhoods, including a pass down the legendary “Bra Street” cheering station, before reaching pit stop 2 in Oreland.img_7235 img_1809 Along the way, walkers also met street after street of schoolchildren—from kindergartners on up through high schoolers—who took breaks from their Friday classes to cheer for the passing walkers.img_1776 img_1822 A Grab & Go in Glenside and a cheering station on Germantown Ave. fueled walkers in to the lunch stop on the beautiful grounds of New Covenant Church.img_7208 img_7367 Walkers quickly noticed that on Friday, the entire Philadelphia 3-Day crew—from pit stops to sweep vans—was united with a common Dr. Suess theme, making it a delightful trend throughout the day.

img_7523 img_1971 img_1940After lunch, the route moved along the shady Wissahickon Trail and to Grab & Go B at the Historic Rittenhouse Town before turning along the Schuylkill River and past Boathouse Row on approach to pit stop 4 right before the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Around the front side of the museum, most walkers took advantage of the amazing photo op, and were delighted to see Rocky Balboa himself (well, a convincing impersonator, anyway), happy to take pictures at the top of the steps that his movie made famous decades ago. Cue “Eye of the Tiger!”img_7584 img_7599

The final stretch of Friday’s route brought walkers downtown to camp at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The camp show on Friday brought back the hosts from the morning’s Opening Ceremony, Dr. Sheri and Amber, as well as a special appearance by President and CEO of Susan G. Komen, Dr. Judy Salerno, who thanked the 3-Day community for being such an integral part of Komen’s mission. We also heard from Elaine Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia, and Komen grantee Dr. Susan Domchek, whose work is made possible thanks in part to funds raised by the 3-Day. Philadelphia walker and survivor Marianne gave an heartfelt speech about the 3-Day’s power in her life, and finally, the Philadelphia 3-Day Youth Corps took the stage to tell us their reasons for becoming part of the 3-Day.

On Saturday morning, walkers set out onto a route that was completely different from where Day 2 has taken them the last few years (though it did include some well-loved elements from Philly 3-Day events of the past). Within the first few miles, walkers were delighted with a surprise portion of the route that took them through the Philadelphia Zoo. Dozens of animals were out enjoying their breakfast and “posing” for pictures with hundreds of walkers.img_2079 From there, they passed by Memorial Hall and made their way up to a Grab & Go on Belmont Plateau with stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline.img_2177 img_2038 img_7630 From there, they cut over onto Bala Cynwyd trail (the Heritage Trail) and found pit stop 2 ready to fuel them up and keep them going.img_2172 After that, it was back across the Schuykill River on the new Manayunk Footbridge and headed toward lunch (after one teensy tiny little hill…at least is wasn’t The Wall!).img_7783 img_7739 Coming down from lunch, walkers strolled down Main Street in Manayunk, passed dozens of shops and restaurants, and one very Sinatra-esque serenader.img_2204img_2189 After that, it was a short walk on Kelly Dr., then a cross over the Falls Bridge, then a riverside walk along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive back into downtown. A Philadelphia walk would not be complete without a photo op at the LOVE statue (even in its new home in Dilworth Park).img_7885

Back at camp, Friends & Family Night got into full swing as many Philadelphia walkers and crew members were joined by loved ones. The camp show began with a new face on stage; Lori Maris, who is Komen’s VP, Affiliate Network and a 3-Day walker herself, shared some heartfelt thoughts about the power of the 3-Day community. The 3-Day celebrated its 150th walk in Michigan earlier this year, and we’ve been reveling in the 3-Day’s big milestone all season long. So with glasses of yummy sparkling grape juice raised, Amber led us in a toast, followed by surprise cupcakes for everyone. The camp show went on to acknowledge some Philadelphia participants who reached milestones of their own, including top fundraisers and local award winners. And of course, the Saturday night dance party followed with typical (and always kind of surprising after 40+ miles of walking) energy.

Day 3 in Philadelphia is a bit of a walk through history. Walkers left camp at the convention center pointed east, and soon were headed down Elfreth’s Alley, notable as being the oldest continuously inhabited street in America.img_8010img_8028 From there, they put one foot in front of the other over cobbled streets until they got to the People’s Plaza, home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell (and a special addition just for the 3-Day: dozens of local cheerleaders offering encouragement and yummy donut holes).img_2578 img_2672 Eventually leading out of downtown, walkers crossed back over the Schuykill River again to come to pit stop 1 at the 30th Street train station patio (known as The Porch, complete with relaxing swings and chairs).img_2821 img_2832 img_2839 From there, walkers continued heading west until they reached the University of Pennsylvania campus. Next up was a walk back over the Schuykill River and into pit stop 2 at Schuykill River Park, approximately the halfway point of Day 3’s route.img_2985 Another cross to the east side of Broad Street brought walkers to another Grab & Go and another cheering station before leading them onto 9th Street and through the Italian Market, which is the country’s oldest open-air street market. A short distance later, walkers went right past the intersection where two landmark rival Philly cheesesteak purveyors, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks face off. Just a couple short miles after that at the lunch stop at Marconi Plaza, walkers were greeted by Dr. Sheri, and Amber, Lori and Judy from Komen, who handed them “More Than Pink” superhero capes to wear for the final few miles.img_2966 img_8248 One last pit stop at FDR Park offered walkers another couple of beautiful photo ops before delivering them to the Navy Yard (where the United States Navy was founded and several decommissioned ships still are docked), the site of Closing Ceremony.img_3119 img_3108 img_8299 img_3126

The Philadelphia 3-Day Closing Ceremony was once again hosted by Dr. Sheri and Amber, who got the hundreds of gathered friends and family members pumped up as the walkers, crew members and survivors marched in to the arena. We thanked our many wonderful supporters, sponsors and local jurisdictions, and we shared an especially joyful moment when Amber announced that an amazing $2.1 million was raised by Philadelphia’s 750 walkers and 275 crew members.img_3139 img_8425 img_3149 img_8435 The Philadelphia 3-Day family danced it out one final time, and as the final flag of the 3-Day was raised, we remembered and repeated the promise we made way back on Friday morning: to never give up our fight until we have ended breast cancer forever.

2016 Philadelphia 3-Day Opening Ceremony Speakers—We Are the 3-Day

The 2016 Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day began this morning with our lovely and inspiring Opening Ceremony. Walkers, crew members and supporters gathered and reaffirmed our continuing promise: that we will never give up until we reach our goal of a world without breast cancer.

As part of the Opening Ceremony, we welcomed some special Philadelphia 3-Day participants to the stage to share their own inspirations—both heart-warming and heartbreaking—for being part of the 3-Day. #WeAreThe3Day

Jill Simmermon – My Mother img_7107 “I walk because almost 19 years ago, I was robbed of ever hearing my mom’s voice again. I walk so that no one else has to endure that pain. I wasn’t able to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday with her, but I walk so that YOU can. I’m Jill and I AM the 3-Day.”

Eric Heck – My Wife img_7110I crew route safety for family and friends who fought and are still fighting, and for my teal warrior wife of 31 years, Kathy. It’s because of organizations like Susan G. Komen and in part because of a drug developed for breast cancer treatment that Kathy, who is battling ovarian cancer, is alive and able to participate in the 3-Day again this weekend. Thank you Pink Family! I’m Eric and I AM the 3-Day.”

Marcia Schrepfer – My Daughter  img_7095 “I am walking for my dear friend, Susan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and has been cancer-free for four years now! I am humbled by her strength and courage and the fact that I get to walk with her this weekend. I walk for a cure to end breast cancer so that my 20-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, her friends, my nieces, and all of the of younger generation will think of breast cancer as a thing of the past. I’m Marcia and I AM the 3-Day.”

Lisa LeBlanc – My Father  img_7100 “I walk for my father, John Kelso, who passed away in 2004. Daddy fought a very brave fight against cancer and even today, he remains an inspiration for all who loved and knew him. I walk to further the progress of cancer research, so that other fathers will win the battle against cancer and enjoy many years of health and happiness with their families. I’m Lisa and I AM the 3-Day.”

Christine Swiker – My Grandmother img_7103 “Two years ago, I participated in my first 3-Day in honor of my Grandmom Claire, who we lost 12 years ago. This year, I add my Aunt Kate, who is currently in remission, and my friend Julie, who is fighting stage 3 to my list. I walk to so that we can stop “adding” people to our lists each year and end early goodbyes. I’m Christine and I AM the 3-Day.”

Rae Jobson – Myself  img_7093 “I have walked the 3-Day five times in honor of my mom, a breast cancer survivor, and in memory of those we have lost. Who would have thought that it could happen to me? Yet here I am, having been diagnosed this past December with stage 4 breast cancer. So this year, I’m also walking for myself and continue to hope for a cure so that my daughters don’t have to walk for the very same reason. I’m Rae and I AM the 3-Day.”