A First-Time Michigan 3-Day Walker Shares Her Dad’s Story

“As a kid and even now an adult, I think I’ve always seen my father as invincible; like nothing could stop him,” said Bridgette, a first-time Michigan 3-Day walker.  “He’s super handy and can fix just about anything around the house (although the joke in the family is that it might lean a little to left when’s done with it).  He’s hard working and always ready to lend a hand.  Even as an adult, he checks in on me as like I am still his little daughter.  I love my dad, and I know he loves me,” she said. That love is just one of the reasons she’ll be taking on the Michigan 3-Day this year; and the other is that Bridgette’s dad is a breast cancer survivor.

“It was a lucky cyst. That’s what the doctors told my dad.” In 2016, he had been having odd chest pain, and felt around his chest to find a lump. A biopsy confirmed it was benign, and that there was no cause for concern. Right before the procedure to drain the cyst, the doctors did one more scan – and this time, there was a new dark spot. A biopsy of this new dark area confirmed that he had breast cancer.

They scheduled a mastectomy of the left breast, but there was no radiation therapy and no chemotherapy. “One complete mastectomy of the left breast later, my dad is a survivor of breast cancer. But without the cyst, they would not have found the breast cancer so early.”

Bridgette had participated in a Komen 5k and donated to friends who were walking the 3-Day, but this year, she’s walking for the first time in Michigan. Bridgette knew men could get breast cancer, but she never knew of one who had. “However, since I’ve been raising funds for the 3-Day, I have learned of another male to have breast cancer (he also survived after a mastectomy).” Male breast cancer, while rare, is a reality. According to Komen.org, “In 2018, it’s estimated that among men in the U.S., there will be 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer (includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers).”

An active man, Bridgette’s dad works in the church as a lay leader, and helped to start the church’s food bank. He’s an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, and an Advisor for his chapter of the Order of the Arrow. He loves sports and going to games, and is a Masonic lodge secretary. It’s safe to say Bridgette’s dad is always busy, and that survivorship was in his blood as a previous skin cancer and prostate cancer survivor, too.

But despite her dad’s now clean bill of health, Bridgette wants more justice in the fight against breast cancer. “What I can’t get out of my mind is that society begins to accept that losing a breast is normal,” she said.  “It’s NOT! It’s gone.  But so is part of your body.  My dad won’t go swimming without a shirt now.  He won’t even work around the house without a shirt on.  Breast cancer doesn’t just leave just a physical scar, it leaves an emotional one.  Not only do I hope to raise awareness by walking, I hopes the funds I raise will find a better cure than mastectomy,” she said.

As a working mom, a house fixer-upper, volunteer with the Jaycees and a treasurer of the Michigan JCI Senate, Bridgette also keeps busy, but follows her passion, “to make a difference – in the world or in someone’s life.” Bridgette, we’re pretty sure that just like your Dad, you will.

Help spread awareness of male breast cancer today. While it’s rare, it is real. For more resources on male breast cancer, visit Komen.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 3-Day Training Songs, According to YOU!

Let’s get moving and grooving, 3-Dayers! Music is a large part of our 3-Day experience, from the inspiring tunes you walk out to after the Opening Ceremony, to a playlist of upbeat classics welcoming you to camp every night to our all-event dance party at the end of the Closing Ceremony. We love a good tune!

Music can be a great training partner, too. That’s why we tapped our 3-Day community for their favorite songs to walk to. Let these recommendations fuel your next training walk, or just get you dancing today!

Jen L. from Facebook loves “Cupid’s Shuffle, The Wobble, and We are Family” when she needs to get moving.

@HeflinBelinda from Twitter recommends Carrie Underwood’s “The Champion” and Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It.”

Karen S. prefers “Geronimo,” “Honey I’m Good,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “Fire and Flood.” She says, “I would dance (as much as I dance) to any of these. 😂”

Coach Liz trains to old time funky 70’s stuff or Motown!

Laura G. from Facebook likes happy tunes like “Walking on Sunshine” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go!”

Linda Z. fittingly says “I Would Walk 500 Miles” is one of her favorites, plus anything by Meghan Trainor!

Debbie S. says, “I don’t necessarily have favorite tunes, but I have an iPod with thousands of songs. Plus, singing and walking go hand in hand! I love 70’s music! But then again, I’m 61 years old so that makes sense! 😊”

Coach Jennifer loves anything from the 80’s like anything from The Go Gos, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “I Got You” by Split Enz

What are your favorite training songs? Tell us in the comments!

Also, be sure to follow along with the 3-Day on Spotify! We have playlists from our walks, plus walking playlists you’re sure to love.

Never Giving Up: Meet Nikki S., Former AVON 39 Walker

Nikki (left) and her Aunt Lynne

“My aunt was a mother figure to me.  She had a huge hand in raising me, teaching me right from wrong, explaining all the joys of being a woman (lol), and so much more. She was my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, and wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out if it wasn’t for having her and my uncle in my life.”

Many of our 3-Dayers have lost loved ones to breast cancer, but that never makes hearing their stories any easier. It just adds to the motivation, focus, and determination to finding a cure. No one knows this better than Nikki S., who has been both a 3-Day and AVON 39 walker in the past.

She will be returning to the 3-Day this year in memory of her aunt and godmother, Lynne. Having walked in Boston in the past, Nikki knew she could not hang up her walking shoes after the AVON 39 left her home state, and so will be journeying to Philadelphia this September to walk for a cure. Coach Tisho is already “so excited to introduce her to the rest of our family,” and Nikki echoes that excitement as well.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to support the cause. Even with AVON no longer being offered, I needed to continue walking in my Auntie Lynne’s honor.”

Lynne’s husband, Nikki’s uncle

Her Aunt Lynne was first diagnosed with breast cancer when Nikki was young, and watching her courageous fight inspired Nikki to first join the 3-Day when she was in college.

“Being a stupid college student, I was pretty confident that I could walk the 60 miles without training AND wearing sneakers I had bought the week before. Funny, huh?! I made it through the first day and a half, until I couldn’t walk through the blisters anymore. I had to shuttle back to camp and call my aunt to come pick me up! We had a good laugh, and she was still proud of me for raising the money, supporting the cause, and trying.”

A few years later, Lynn’s cancer had progressed to metastatic stage 4, found in her lungs and throughout her bones. Nikki began walking the AVON 39 in Boston for Lynne. Sadly, in 2016, Lynne lost her battle — and Nikki lost her dear aunt.

Nikki and her uncle

When asked to describe the importance of the 3-Day, and breast cancer walks, she recalled memories of those tough times.

“Watching my Aunt’s health quickly deteriorate; Hearing her wish she could just go back to work and have normalcy; Having her there to listen to my “bad days” and offer advice, while she never complained about her treatment; Wanting more time and more of her advice; Seeing my Grammy and Grampy lose their first born; Watching my Uncle grieve the loss of his ‘bride’ after their 28 years of marriage and a lifetime of love; The heartbreak that my daughter still goes through, missing her Auntie.”

It is heartbreak that motivates Nikki and keeps her working towards a cure.

She’ll be heading to Philadelphia as a Super Fundraiser (she has raised more than $20,000 in total over the years for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and the AVON 39) and has a unique success strategy to reach her fundraising goals.

“I would like to surpass my fundraising from last year. I had organized and hosted a very successful comedy show fundraiser, and hope to do the same this year.  It was a great experience, and a great way to attack my fundraising goal.”

We are honored to welcome Nikki back to the 3-Day family this year. Alongside Nikki, we walk for Auntie Lynne. We will never give up.