Meet Jen B., a Preventative Mastectomy 3-Day Walker

Jen Besserman first learned about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day via her boyfriend’s mother, Karen. Karen has walked in 24 different 3-Day events for the past 15 years, but Jen’s connection to the fight to end breast cancer goes deeper. “My grandmother is a breast and ovarian cancer survivor, and she just turned 88. A few years ago, my mom found out she and my grandmother were BRCA1+, and last year I found out that I too share the gene,” said Jen.

Jen wasn’t surprised, as she had a feeling she might have it. “Right when I found out, I called my mom and dad and they were more upset than I was. I told them everything would be fine. I didn’t really think too much about it until I met with my genetic counselor and learned more about the gene.” After meeting with her genetic counselor, Jen did the difficult task of putting her emotions aside, and looked at the facts presented to her by her doctors. “The fact was that I had an 86% chance of getting breast cancer and if I chose to have preventative surgery, that risk would go down to under 5%. Those numbers alone sold me on the surgery…and I met incredible surgeons so it was a win-win for me. It also helped that I lived close to the mecca of plastic surgery, Beverly Hills. This made my decision easier as well,” she said.

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Jen’s mom Susan knew about her BRCA gene mutation for nine years, but hadn’t thought about a double mastectomy before. While she had opted to have an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), Jen said once she had made up her mind about her surgery, she called her mom and said, “Why haven’t you done this? It lowers our risk 95%. It’s a no brainer!”

Once Jen’s mom knew more about the surgery, she realized it made sense for her, too – so she opted to move forward, and chose to do it before Jen so that she could tell Jen what to expect. Susan is a professional baker and candy maker for her company “Susie’s Sweet Shoppe” in New York, and according to her daughter, has the “most positive attitude – all the time.” While there were no decisions made lightly about both Jen and Susie’s treatments, they found the process brought them together. “We are close and I feel that this surgery brought us even closer, not just because she flew in from New York and stayed with me in Santa Monica for four weeks to take care of me, but because we now have this bond.”

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Susan will be flying from New York to walk the San Diego 3-Day with Jen. Jen is a graphic designer at an advertising agency in Santa Monica, and her hobbies are painting, riding her bike along the beach path, anything related to music, and being surrounded by friends and family. Her fundraising efforts have been successful so far, and Jen is at 87% of the way to her goal. “On my one- year anniversary of my preventative double mastectomy in February, I shared a post on social media and let my friends and family know that I will be participating in the walk in November. Everyone has been very generous.”

What made Jen want to walk, besides her own personal connection to the cause? “Well, I like to try anything once. You never know if you will like or dislike something until you try it! I had the pleasure of witnessing the Closing Ceremony this year and the speeches almost brought me to tears and motivated me to participate next year. Plus half of the walk is by the beach, so the beautiful view will hopefully distract you from your sore muscles,” she laughs.

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“When I showed up to the 3-Day a few months ago, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved. The energy and camaraderie that I walked into was incredible. I can’t wait to officially walk in November.” And we can’t wait to have you and your mother join us, Jen; and we’re grateful to you and others like you for so bravely sharing your story, and being a part of the fight.

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Dr. Sheri Prentiss: Continuing the Fight, with the 3-Day and Beyond

San Diego Day 3As the 2017 Susan G. Komen 3-Day season quickly approaches, we are busy gearing up for another amazing year! We’re also wrapping up the 2017 Impact Forums where we’ve received great feedback and support from our fantastic Komen 3-Day community. During these events, we shared with participants the steps we plan to take as we tackle our Bold Goal to reduce breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.

In order to do so, we need your voice and the help of our advocates who are passionate about ending breast cancer. One of those advocates is Dr. Sheri Prentiss who has served as the Susan G. Komen 3-Day national spokesperson for six years. In 2017, Dr. Sheri will be sharing her passion and dedication for creating a world without breast cancer as she transitions her work from the Komen 3-Day to the Susan G. Komen African-American Health Equity Initiative.

Dr. Sheri wanted to share her journey with the 3-Day family and reassure the community that her unwavering dedication to Susan G. Komen and its mission will continue through her work as an ambassador for quality care for all.

Starting the Fight―From Doctor, To Patient, To Spokesperson

When I found a lump in my right breast in 2008, I didn’t realize that it would change everything―my health, career and life. A year after I underwent a partial mastectomy, 15 rounds of chemotherapy, and 33 rounds of radiotherapy treatment, I was faced with yet another hurdle. Clinically disabling lymphedema in my right arm, hand and fingers made it so I could no longer care for my patients. I didn’t know it then, but this career-changing twist of fate would bring me closer to the organization that I am so involved with today―Susan G. Komen.

I was a longtime supporter of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day long before I participated as a survivor in my first walk in 2010. I felt right at home walking alongside these men and women with strong characters, sharing a sense of true familiar love for a cause that meant more than words could express to each of us. The 3-Day community helped me heal from my breast cancer and lymphedema diagnosis―physically, emotionally and spiritually. This 3-Day family of mine was and always will be truly exceptional and inspiring. It takes a true selfless individual to become completely committed to a cause―fundraising, training and walking year, after year―this strong group helped build my faith. In 2011, I applied to be the national spokesperson for this family that I adored and served in that role for the past six years.

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The Miracle of 3-Day―Healing Through Love

No 3-Day event is the same. I feel like it is my first walk every time. I knew once I arrived on-site that I would not only be helping the lives of others, but in return my life would be positively impacted.

The love is all around, from the crew to the walkers. I have even seen marriage proposals and marriage ceremonies on-event! None of this would be possible if it were not for the 3-Day staff. Year after year their support and commitment is unwavering. Whether it is a difficult decision that needs to be made, or an issue behind the scenes, the staff ensures that each event runs as seamlessly as the last.img_7278

I have experienced many miracles during my 3-Day experiences. People who did not think they could walk due to a chronic illness were able to defy their doctor’s prediction and participate in that season’s event―showing their complete commitment to themselves, their donors and the 3-Day.

Continuing with Komen―Equal Access for All

Because of my involvement with 3-Day I have had the opportunity to participate in Race for the Cure, Affiliate fundraisers, and more. In 2015 when I was asked to moderate the Chicago Breast Cancer Disparities Roundtable I was honored to help lead this important discussion in my hometown. That day, I heard many stories from patients who faced barriers in accessing health care and clinical trials. I continued to advocate for health equity by representing Komen on national disparities panels and community meetings. I was recently honored to accept the opportunity to serve as a Susan G. Komen African-American Health Equity Initiative Ambassador. In this role, I will continue to help us reach our Bold Goal.sheri_me-rodney-joyce-at-closingBeing an African-American female physician, as well as a breast cancer survivor, I know I have a unique experience that can help further Komen’s African-American Health Equity Initiative―saving more lives, improving quality of life, and sharing my story so others can gain strength, assurance and healing – like I was able to do through the 3-Day community. My work with Komen is more than just a passion, it is a commitment that I have honored and cherished and I know that it will continue to evolve within this organization.

Thank you from the depths of my soul to my amazing 3-Day family for all you have given me. I will never stop fighting and I look forward to furthering my role with Susan G. Komen to ensure that ALL are able to have access to new innovations, quality care and treatment. Be encouraged and be blessed.sheri_opening2

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3-Day St. Patrick’s Day FUNdraising Ideas

Are you feeling lucky, 3-Dayers? Well, you should be! St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and this holiday is a pot of fundraising gold if you follow our rainbow of ideas. By putting in a little effort, you can see great fundraising results with these ideas for fun crafts, cookies and more around this holiday.

Simply Delicious Desserts

No-bake desserts can still be tasty, and they’re easy to make! These easy-make Oreos are festive, and a quick addition to a team fundraising bake sale. Make them just in green or even with a variety of colors like white and pink, too! Another no-bake option is these Lucky Charm Rice Krispies Treats, which are a fun play on childhood favorites that families can purchase for a holiday indulgence.

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Make your own pot of gold

Have fun with one of the holiday’s greatest traditions and create your own pot of gold! Work with local businesses to get donations of gift cards or other products and create fun gift baskets, then sell those for donations to the 3-Day. You can also supplement the baskets with crafts and treats like the ones we recommend here.

Deliver luck

Put an extra bit of luck with your next round up fundraising letters! Instead of paying for postage, put that money towards making Leprechaun Popcorn, and attaching a donation letter to each bag. They’re small enough to fit a small bag and a note into a mailbox, and it will bring a St. Patrick’s Day smile to the faces of your friends and family.

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Put your words on a string

Write a thank you note to past donors and follow this simple tutorial to make a green paper butterfly out of your note. This could be especially effective to send to people who have donated in the past, but haven’t yet donated for this year’s 3-Day. Send it to people who have already donated as well! It’s always a good time of year to remind our donors how much they mean to us.

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Do you have any fun St. Patrick’s Day fundraising ideas? Share them with us!