On the 3-Day, it’s not uncommon to meet people who walk for their friends, their families, themselves or people they know who have been affected by breast cancer. Caren S. didn’t know anyone who had been affected by breast cancer – until, just one day after walking the 2017 Philadelphia 3-Day, she found out that SHE was now living with the disease.
In 2017, Caren walked her first 3-Day in Philadelphia. She didn’t know anyone with breast cancer, but had been inspired to join the 3-Day after seeing a woman wearing one of our Victory T-Shirts while she was running a half marathon. Caren trained and walked all on her own, coming in from Boston just to make that 60-mile, 3-Day journey. Right after the Closing Ceremony, she headed home…to what turned out to be a whole new world.
“The day after the walk ended, I drove back to Boston and immediately to a doctor’s appointment I had scheduled months in advance. It was just an appointment to get a prescription refill, but since this was a new physician’s assistant, she insisted on doing a well woman exam. Well, that PA found a lump in my breast. Flash forward to today, and I have stage 3 HER2+ breast cancer.”
This turn of events is one that many who are diagnosed with breast cancer know all too well. It immediately gave Caren “a whole new appreciation for Susan G. Komen, the 3-Day, all of the coaches, all of the volunteers, the survivors and the caregivers,” and has inspired her to already begin planning her 2018 walk goals.
One of them is to be walking as a survivor. And she’s going to approach that goal like one of her favorite movie characters.
“I’m obsessed with Rocky, literally. And during one of his fights, after 11 rounds of being beaten to a pulp, Rocky stood toe to toe with his opponent, looked him in the eye and confidently said, “I’m still standing here.” To me, that’s what the word “survivor” means. After chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, possible radiation, and 9 additional months of infusions, when I can say, “I’m still standing here,” that’s when I can call myself a survivor. To me, a survivor is someone who stood toe to toe with cancer, took all the hits, and kept moving forward until they beat it, scars, short hair and all.”
As she continues to undergo treatment, battling her own scars, she’s also encouraging people to join her in 2018 on the 3-Day! It’s all part of her goal to keep moving forward, and she wants as many people as possible to join her on her journey.
“Between the volunteers, staff and other walkers, someone will always have your back and make sure you get what you need! I would say that the cause for which you are walking, mixed with the stories you hear over the 3 days, as well as the gorgeous and fun scenery, will make it an event you will remember for a lifetime. It’s all worth it as you’re walking.”
Caren plans on walking throughout her treatment, though her training plan is different this year than last. Her heart has been weakened by her infusions so she will be bringing a friend with her for long walks, for the extra fun and support. She also gets help from her training playlist, which now doubles as her chemo playlist, too. The songs that pump her up and keep her going? Unsurprisingly they include the “Rocky” playlist, as well as:
- “It’s A Fight” by Three 6 Mafia
- “Stronger” by Kanye West
- “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon
- “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy
- “Watch Me Shine” by Vanessa Carlton
And shine she will. She’s going to keep fighting, and like her pal Rocky, she’s never down for the count.
“I live my life by my favorite movie quote of all time, which was said by Rocky in Rocky Balboa:
‘It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward?’ That’s something I remind myself on a daily basis.”