We had such an amazing time with our 3-Day family at the 2021 New England 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on August 15th. One big reason was getting to hear from a couple of our inspiring 3-Day walkers. Elke Franklin spoke at our celebration gathering and had all of us tearing up. If you didn’t get a chance to hear her speak, here is her story, in her own words.
Why did I choose to walk the 2020 New England 3-Day? I was finally ready…
In July of 2015 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I was 37 years old, had a 1 year-old and a 4 year-old, worked full-time, as did my husband. By mid-August I was starting the first of 16 rounds of chemo (which given a few complications took closer to 24 weeks to complete) and facing a bi-lateral mastectomy after that. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t be totally independent. I had to rely on the doctors to take care of me and my wonderful support system of friends and family to help see me through it.
Luckily by the next spring, I was finished with treatment and I was ready to give back. However, I underestimated the physical toll the treatment took on me. So I let my body heal. Going into the next year, I felt physically strong again, but emotionally I was a giant mess. Luckily, the hospital had awesome social workers and therapists to assist. I couldn’t figure out why I was always anxious, mad, or sad.
I did not mention this when I spoke at the kick-off because I would’ve seriously started crying, but I lost a friend to breast cancer in the fall of 2018. She was a survivor when I was diagnosed, but as I was recovering, her cancer recurred with a vengeance. So my biggest fear at the time was playing out in front of me.
I mentioned to my therapist about “maybe having PTSD or something.” He said, “Let’s think about it as ‘post-traumatic growth’ instead.” So I did. And I let myself feel my feelings and heal emotionally from the diagnosis and treatment. I still don’t know how my friends and family put up with me during that roller coaster.
Fast forward to the fall of 2019. One day, I just felt like “me” again. But a better version of me. So I registered for the 3-Day! I reached out to my girlfriends who saw me through treatment and the following years. Five of them signed up immediately to join my team and those who couldn’t make that sort of commitment made donations. It does feel like that support system came full circle within the last five years. So yes, the 2020 walk would’ve happened on the 5th anniversary of my start of chemo, but it was really more of a coincidence. It just took me that long to fully heal and commit.”
We thank Elke for being so brave and sharing her story at the New England kick-off and again here for you all to read. We’re so inspired by her willingness to talk about one of the very real side-effects of a cancer diagnosis – how it impacts you emotionally. Thank you, Elke! We can’t wait to welcome you and your team to the 2021 New England 3-Day next August!
To hear more inspiring stories like this, you have three more chances by attending our kick-off activities. Our next virtual kick-off is on September 12. RSVP today.