“I thought I knew how tough I was…”

Samantha B. wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into when she registered for the 2013 Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day. All she knew was that if her mom could fight and survive breast cancer three times, she could walk 60 miles. Over the course of her training and fundraising during the year, and then on the event itself, Samantha learned more than she ever expected – about walking, about the 3-Day, and about her own inner strength.

samantha and mom

Samantha and her mom, Jan

This was Samantha’s experience, in her own words:

“This by far is one of the toughest things I have ever undertaken in my life. I thought I knew how tough I was before this walk started. But by day two, I knew that I had surpassed my own expectations of myself. Here are some of the highlights that I learned over three days:

  • Walking is completely different than running.
  • When someone honks at you, your first inclination better be to use all five fingers to wave because they are cheering you on.
  • Going downhill just means that you’re going to use the other leg muscles you forgot about when you were going up.
  • This may be the only time in your life when you are excited to see the police because they are decked out in pink and cheering you on.
  • The training emails weren’t really a suggestion.
  • When you are at what you think is the point of exhaustion, your body can go a heck of a lot farther, you just have to believe in yourself and put that foot in front of the other.

“But some of my favorite lessons I learned are these:

  • Despite the craziness in the world, there truly is hope for humanity. Over 2.5 million dollars was raised by 1100 walkers alone for the [Seattle 3-Day] walk. Volunteers and complete strangers supported us by holding up signs to cheer us on, made sure we were well fed along the route, helped put up our tents, served us hot meals, and gave us hugs and words of encouragement when we felt like we couldn’t take another step. It was extremely humbling to be surrounded by the most genuine and giving people that just wanted to help.
  • You start out walking for a specific person in mind. For [my teammate] Kate and me, we started this crazy dream to walk sixty miles in honor of my mom. But as we crossed the finish line, we found that we were walking for more than that. We were walking for the other 1099 people who decided to walk. We were walking for the people they were walking for.  We were walking for the families of those walkers. We were walking for the volunteers who just wanted to help. We were walking for all of those survivors and those who are battling this decease and can’t walk on their own. And finally, we were walking for ourselves.
  • Finally, I have one of the best families a person could ask for. I was quite upset when I woke up Sunday morning and could barely stand on my own two feet, until I received the following two text messages from the two greatest people I will ever know:
    • From Dad: Sammie I am so proud of you for doing the race. It doesn’t matter what it took to get there, you’re going to cross the finish line.
    • From Mom: I am so proud of you and love you so much. You hold your chin up high. You finished strong in my book.
samantha blea

Still smiling at Day 2 lunch in Seattle

“When one person in your family gets cancer, it affects everyone. For the last five years, I have watched my dad and sister take Mom to her appointments and treatments, make her dinner, clean the house, give her hugs, and tell her that it was going to be okay from afar. For five years I have lived with my own guilt for not being able to be home to help in any way that I could. Until the weekend of the walk. This is the first time in this entire journey that I have felt that I helped to make a difference and help my mom. This started off as my Mom’s dream in 2008. And today, I can hold my head up high and say, ‘I completed the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk in her honor.’”

Amazing, Samantha! We are so grateful for your words of wisdom, and we hope that you will continue your journey with us in 2014.

Do you have a unique perspective to share about the 3-Day? Email us as blog@the3day.org and see your story featured on the 3-Day blog.

3 thoughts on ““I thought I knew how tough I was…”

  1. I love you to the moon and back Sammie Jo. Even though you are far away, I have always felt that you are here. Your daily phone calls when you’re in port and e-mails when you are at sea. You are what all Mom’s only hope their children can be. I would melt for you!

  2. Congratulations Samantha, you had me in tears! Thank you for expressing what every single one of us feels. As I read your blog I thought of my children and how they felt when I had this horrid disease! My daughter in Maui was so over wrought with guilt for not being here, but knowing I had her love and support brought her peace, so know from a mom who has been there, your our heart, your our breath, your our rock regardless if your here or on the phone. I send you love as you prepare for your next walk (come on I know your going to do another one) and I send your mom warm wishes and prayers for a long and healthy life. Have a Merry Christmas and a joyous and healthy New Year!
    Maryann Mason
    5year walker
    6year survivor

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