Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Lisa Weier

We had such an amazing time with our 3-Day family at the 2021 Chicago 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on September 12th. One big reason was getting to hear from a couple of our inspiring 3-Day walkers. Lisa Weier spoke at our evening celebration gathering and really moved us with her story. If you didn’t get a chance to hear her speak, here is her story, in her own words.

I’ve been a supporter of Susan G. Komen for years and became even more involved when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 57.

My mom was living in Las Vegas when she was diagnosed, but because of my deep respect and admiration for the medical community here in Chicago, I insisted that she come here for a second opinion. The doctors at UChicago confirmed her diagnosis and scheduled her mastectomy. I took it upon myself to coordinate her care and she stayed with me before and after her surgery.

After recovering from her surgery, my mom went back to Las Vegas for her chemo treatments. During that time, even though I wasn’t physically with her, I learned so much about breast cancer: how chemo is supposed to work, side effects of medication, and terms I never really wanted to know like neutropenic. As a testament to her determination, my mom finished her last chemo treatment on a Thursday, got on a plane on Friday, and that Saturday attended a black tie event that I had been working on for the American Cancer Society. We went together to my stylist beforehand to get all glammed up. I got my hair done; she got eyelashes put on and eyebrows penciled in. My mom looked stunning that evening and we had wonderful time.

After that, we planned to walk in the San Diego 3-Day in November 2008, to celebrate her 2-year survivor anniversary. Since there wasn’t a 3-Day in Chicago that year, nor one in Las Vegas, we figured that we’d go to San Diego for the big 3-Day finale with the beautiful weather and stunning scenery. We completed our fundraising goals, created t-shirts and coordinated our gear. We were excited!

That June 2008, my dad suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm leaving him comatose. Nine days later, we took him off life support and he passed away. He was the rock of our family and my mom and I were devastated.

As anyone who’s lost someone they love can tell you, grief is profoundly exhausting. My mom and I weren’t sure if we would have the energy to actually walk 60 miles that November in the 3-Day. But we decided that my dad would want us to walk and so we did.

Since my mom was incredibly creative, she could sew, knit, crochet, pretty much do anything (I luckily inherited a small portion of talent), we decided that we needed to make it our goal to win the tent decorating contest at the 3-Day. We asked friends to give us names of people they knew who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and we put them on ribbons which encircled our tent. We used small twinkling lights, glow in the dark stars and pink carnations (my mom’s favorite). We won! That ribbon is one of my most treasured possessions because of everything that went into it.

The time we spent time together on the 3-Day was incredible, but I had no idea just how important those memories would become until 2 months later when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This meant that while she had easily and happily walked 60 miles, her body was betraying her the entire time. For those of you who have been diagnosed when you feel completely fine, it is unnerving to know that your body is doing something unbeknownst to you and completely out of your control.

I was sitting by her bedside one night at my home where I was caring for her, when I told her that one day I thought I’d start a foundation and do something “more,” whatever that was. And she looked at me, and said, “I’ll be right there watching over you when you do.” That was the first time she even hinted that she knew it was her time to go. Then I asked her if she would do me a favor: “When you see dad, can you give him a hug for me?” Her eyes became really bright blue and she had this great big smile and nodded and said “Of course.”

Just six months after our 3-Day adventure and only 11 months after having lost my dad, I lost her, too.

I am eternally grateful for the time we spent together and all that she taught me about being brave and strong (as an aside, I personally hate that word “strong” because it just means you’ve just been through a bunch of crap that nobody would want to go through).

That next June, just after a year from losing my mom, when I was going through a divorce, working and raising my two boys who were 6 and 3, I was downtown at Northwestern for my mammogram. I was 37.

I discovered it is never a good sign when everyone in a doctor’s office, including those who arrived long after you did, go home and you are still there reading some “Us” magazine from 1988 waiting for someone to talk to you about your test results. So, I wasn’t surprised when the radiologist called me back to show me my images and said that it looked like I had breast cancer. I just sat there while the nurse who was seated next to me waited for me to fall apart. But you see, I didn’t. That’s how I knew my Mom was right there with me. And because I had been through her journey, I knew what was coming and just said, “Ok, what’s next?”

Two months later I had my mastectomy at Northwestern. And not only was my mom there with me that day too, but I had a waiting room full of beautiful friends who were, and still are, my biggest cheerleaders and advocates. My surgeon said that he felt like he was addressing a crowd when he came out to report on how things went. Like many of you, I often have a hard time accepting help because, of course, I can do everything myself. Except that I can’t and we aren’t meant to. Learning to accept help, love and support from those amazing friends is the gift breast cancer gave me. And I’m beyond grateful.

Three weeks ago, on August 23, I celebrated my 10-year survivor anniversary!

I decided last year that to celebrate this milestone I’d have a big party, check a few things off my bucket list and walk in the 3-Day since it was back in Chicago. Perfect! I wanted to walk in memory of my mom, in honor of a dear friend of mine who is also a survivor and in joy for all the blessings in my life. My friends were planning to have a cheering station and I was planning to collect stickers and buttons on my lanyard that those of you that have walked in the 3-Day know are small tokens of encouragement that you pick up along the journey.

But as we all know and have certainly been reminded of this year, life is uncertain and unpredictable. So instead of any of those things, I spent my 10-year anniversary going to brunch and watching a movie with my boys. Now that might not seem like such a big accomplishment. But my boys are now 13 and 16 and for those of you with teenage boys, you know how “easy” it is to convince them to spend time hanging out with their mom. The day was uneventful and quiet and ordinary which made it extraordinary and the perfect celebration.

I’m looking forward to celebrating my 11-year anniversary by walking in Chicago’s 3-Day next year and hope to see all of you there!

We thank Lisa for being so brave and sharing the story of her emotional family journey at the Chicago kick-off and again here for you all to read. We can’t wait to welcome you to the 2021 Chicago 3-Day next October!

To hear more inspiring stories like this, you have two more chances by attending our kick-off activities. Our next virtual kick-off is on November 7th. RSVP today.

Kindness Matters

One of the things that makes the Susan G. Komen 3-Day so special, is the people who make up this beautiful community. This event compels people to show up for loved ones and strangers alike. It pulls together people who are looking to make a difference in the world. Time and time again, we’ve seen the ways in which this extends beyond the 3-Day itself.

Longtime walker Sylvia Campbell and her teammates from Team 211 2Steps 1Goal 1Lifetime started an initiative called Kindness Matters. They collect donations of food, blankets, books, gift cards, etc. and then load up wagons and distribute the items amongst the homeless population in the Tampa area. They have forged relationships with many of their recipients and document their interactions on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FEEDINGTHEINVISIBLE. It’s a beautiful project that highlights the best in people and the humanity in us all.

Here is the story of Kindness Matters, in their own words:

kindness mattersKINDNESS MATTERS is a way of giving back to others. Seeing the invisible, we also see ourselves more clearly, and are made more complete.

211 began as a walking team to raise awareness for breast cancer, and funds for breast cancer research. The majority of our members have walked this journey of breast cancer, or traveled it with one they love.

As we walked miles, training, we could not ignore those who lay sleeping beneath the bridges, trying to stay cool in the summer months. or warm as the winter came. The invisible, the unseen…yet people like each of us.

This was brought home as we were given the gift of knowing someone who was part of this homeless world, yet who was able to receive care, and caring because of the compassion of members of this team.

When we went to the Philadelphia 3-Day, walking in the cold miserable rain, we were struck by the faces of the homeless we saw there. And so we tried to share coffee, and food, as we walked our miles. And the gratitude they shared was something we will always hold close in our hearts.

From this we began the Kindness Matters walks. Each month we gather, make sandwiches, pack bags with food, socks, scarfs, blankets, water and other items and leave them with all we see on our walks. And so it pays forward…for Kindness Does Matter.

Kindness Matters is a way for those who have walked the walk of breast cancer to give back to others…and it has grown beyond that. See what Komen has inspired?


Speaking of being inspired…we are truly inspired by what Sylvia and her team have accomplished and the many ways in which they’re taking the lessons they’ve learned on the 3-Day and bringing them back into their community.

Thank you Sylvia, and Team 211 2Steps 1Goal 1Lifetime, for making this world a better place!

Sylvia has raised more than $41,000 for the 3-Day, walking every year since 2006, and her teams have raised more than $340,000! They will join us in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2021.

Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Debbie Rood

Our 2021 New England 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off started Saturday morning, August 15th, with an inspiring morning session hosted on both Zoom and Facebook Live. The highlight was getting to hear Debbie Rood’s moving story. If you missed it, here is Debbie’s story, in her own words.

“My story is simple.

On September 19, 2018 I had my annual mammogram and was informed the doctor wanted to see me because they saw something.

I told them if it was my left breast, I have had a hard pea-like nodule for 20 years. It was my left breast and after an ultrasound, the doctor told me he wanted to do a biopsy, right NOW.

I then read him of my list of errands…important things like my nails and the tailor’s…and I left. I was SCARED. The next day I returned with my husband and they confirmed I had Stage 2, Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. I learned Lobular is only 10% of breast cancers and generally is a bilateral disease. I was fast-tracked and scheduled for a lumpectomy within three weeks of my mammogram, so I called a time out.

I decided to receive a second opinion from the largest medical university in our state. The two-hour ride was a wise decision. They identified four additional tumors and one swollen lymph node.

The tests began. We all know the joys of compression during a mammogram, but I had an MRI-guided biopsy where they compress your breast like a mammogram for an hour to conduct the biopsies. They confirmed one additional tumor was malignant and my lymph node was compromised. A PET scan provided excellent news. It had not spread, but DNA testing suggested I had a high propensity for reoccurrence, so my treatment plan would begin with 16 treatments of chemotherapy.

I had my first treatment the week before Thanksgiving and this is our BIG family holiday so we had some fun with the battle I was preparing for…

NE_DebbieFamilyWigs

The following week we cut my long dark hair into a layered pixie and I donated my hair. The day after my second treatment there was more hair in my sink and on my pillow, so I took the plunge to GI Deb.NE_Debbie Bald

My attitude throughout my battle was instrumental. My mantra was, “This will not have power over me.” I continued my routine, going to the gym six days a week, and walking the dog 2-3 miles. And no, I couldn’t do the 45-minute spin class, but I set goals and wouldn’t stop until I had 30 minutes under my belt.

After 13 out of 16 chemo treatments, they halted it due to complications with neuropathy. After a month off for good behavior, I had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal in late March, and a second surgery to ensure wider margins in April.

In May 2019, I began the 30 treatments of radiation…five days a week for six weeks.

While the treatment is over, not a day goes by that I don’t remember. Primarily because I see the world differently. I am different.

Colors are brighter, the world seems to shout vs. speak to me, and my grandchildren are even more dear to me, if that’s possible. And while I still experience disappointment and anger, I no longer hold onto my anger like I did pre-cancer.

When I was initially diagnosed, the hospital told me there were only two places to read about my disease, cancer.org and Susan G. Komen. I remembered seeing something about a walk, but I was overwhelmed. So in the fall, I coerced two friends into walking with me and the rest is history.

We have a 10-person team who has raised $21K! I personally have raised $6,000, and almost half of that was through Facebook donations. I also took our neighborhood directory and emailed everyone. People who I didn’t know donated because cancer has touched someone they know. I also posted about the 3-Day on my LinkedIn profile and again was touched and shocked at the former colleagues who donated. So, my advice is to be creative in fundraising, and like me in my battle….don’t ever give up!

I look forward to walking with you all next year, experiencing my first pink bubble!”

Thank you, again, for sharing your story, Debbie. We can’t wait to welcome you to the New England 3-Day next August!

Bonus: Debbie’s granddaughters, ages 8 and 4, watched the Kick-Off with her son and daughter-in-law. 8 year-old Hannah suggested to Mom that they walk 13 miles for their grandma’s 13 chemo treatments. So they walked Saturday and Sunday, took photos at each mile and made this collage and note and posted it to Facebook.

Debbie Rood social postThis weekend Oma was supposed to do 60 miles in 3 days at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Although this was canceled, she was selected to share her story of battling breast cancer live on the virtual kick-off event! We couldn’t be more proud of her and she is such a shining example of true strength. Hannah and I committed to walking 13 miles in her honor this weekend, one for each round of chemo she endured. Hannah stuck in there like a champ! We love you Oma  #theroodgirls #omakickscancer #13milesforoma #teamdeb #3daytogether.

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.