Being A First-Time Walker and Fundraising Success – The Story of Felice A.

In 2018, Felice A. received news no daughter ever wants to hear – “Your mom has metastatic breast cancer.” As many of us know all too well, the experience of watching a loved one battle breast cancer inspired her to sign up for her first Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in 2019. Due to personal circumstances, she deferred her plans to 2020, which was then postponed to 2021 because of the pandemic. November 2021 will be her first time walking the 3-Day in honor of her mom, who passed away in November of 2020.  

Have you participated in the 3-Day before? 

No, not this one. My mom and I did the Avon 2-day walk in 2014 in San Francisco. The San Diego 2021 3-Day will be my first. 

Are you walking alone, with a friend or with a team? 

Walking alone — but the Susan G. Komen community has been incredibly warm and welcoming.  I’ve recently met a walking coach local to my area and a group of people who are also walking.  So, while I’m walking alone, I definitely don’t feel alone. 

We’ve noticed you’ve raised over $10,000 since June. How are you fundraising? 

I sent both personalized emails through my 3-Day Participant Center and I posted the fundraiser on Facebook. I have also asked for sponsors — I’m planning to create a T-shirt and will include the company logo on it as part of the sponsorship. 

What have been the most successful fundraising tactics for you? 

My personalized emails have been the best. I know personalization takes extra work, but I send one email at a time with a note directed to that person. I then copy the general message below. That honestly got a ton of responses. Instead of sending from the app as a “form” email, I think people appreciate the direct reach out. Given the times we’re in with COVID still among us, I’ve also been very careful to say, “anything is welcomed and appreciated, including well wishes and cheers from the sidelines.” I don’t want people to feel obligated to donate, especially if, for whatever reason, they can’t afford to. It’s hard asking for donations normally, but even harder in these crazy times. So, I think it’s important to let people off the hook and not make them feel obligated, and it makes it easier to ask by approaching it this way. I did the same for the “sponsors” that have donated $500. I didn’t ask for a specific amount, but I let each person know that if they were open to sponsorship, I would put their logo on a shirt for when I go on training walks and for the 3-Day to acknowledge the generosity and commitment of a larger donation. A couple people even asked if they could have a shirt! Some have also read my story on my personal fundraising page, which I believe really struck a chord because everyone knew how close my mom and I were. She passed away November 29, 2020. My mom was beloved by a lot of people. 

What advice would you give to someone whose loved one has just received a diagnosis? 

To those whose loved one just received a diagnosis: Hearing the news is like an out of body experience — and takes time to process — and it’s ok if you never really come 100% to terms with it. What’s important is to stay positive for your loved one, and express, both through words and through your actions, your love for that person in meaningful ways. Simply just being present and there so they know they’re not alone can help ease the anxiety you’re both going through. 


What are you looking to gain from this experience? 

I want to do this — walk and raise money — to honor my mom’s life and legacy; she is my inspiration and my motivation. 

Signing up to walk 60 miles in three days may seem intimidating, but not as hard as fighting breast cancer. The fact is, most of us have a story similar to Felice; we ourselves, or someone we know has either lost a loved one or knows someone who is fighting for their life. What we do to fight back makes a difference, and that’s why we walk. Share your story about why you walk with us in the comments. 

The Most Creative Ways 3-Dayers Honor Who They Walk For

As we walk 60 miles in honor of our loved ones who have been affected by breast cancer, 3-Dayers pull out all the stops to decorate those pink outfits! One of the ways we accessorize is by bringing mementos to celebrate those we walk for. Over the years, we have seen some extremely creative ways that people honor their reasons for walking. 

Photos: Bring a photo of your loved one to the 3-Day. One idea that we love is to take pictures with the photo you brought on pit stops, at the ceremonies, and with fellow walkers you meet along the way to bring along a piece of them if they aren’t walking with you. 

Pins: We 3-Dayers certainly love our pins! Make a pin with your loved one’s photo or name to bring with you on your 3-Day walk. 

Ribbons: Write each person’s name on a ribbon and pin it on you. You can ask those who donated to you to send you names to walk in memory of or bring a bag full of blank ribbons for fellow walkers to write their family and friend’s names on. If you want to get really creative, try creating a hat or bra full of ribbons with names on them! 

Clothing: Wear a pink shirt, bandana, or hat and bring a sharpie for fellow 3-Dayers to write who they walk in honor of, too. You can also print a photo of them on a t-shirt so everyone can see who you are walking for! 

Flags and Capes: Honor who you are walking for by writing their names on a pink flag or cape and let it fly! Everyone behind you will see each of the names with each step you take. 

Jewelry: Hold who you walk for close to your heart with a necklace. You can also bring a bracelet, ring, or earrings with your loved one’s name on it to wear throughout the 3-Day. 

Keychains: Make a keychain to put on your lanyard or backpack with names and objects that remind you of who you walk for. We have seen everything from stuffed animals to beaded handmade keychains. 

Lanyards: Let your personality shine by decorating your 3-Day lanyard. Use those photos, stickers, pins, keychains, and ribbons to spice up that ID badge. 

Participating in the 3-Day is a monumentally special experience. Bringing something sentimental that reminds you of your loved one along for the journey makes it that much more special. Let us know how you honor those you walk for during the 3-Day in the comments! 

The Four Words That Changed My Life

By Beth B.

Beth B. at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®

I never get tired of telling my story. Four words. 

It all started on October 26, 2011 —10 days after my 30th high school reunion. I went for my annual exam. Ten minutes into the visit, my gynecologist said, “You have a lump.” Four words. Thirty minutes later, I was having a mammogram a month before my regularly scheduled one and an ultrasound. An hour later, the technician took me into a room and put me on the phone with my doctor, who said, “We found something suspicious.” Four words. They told me to find a surgeon and schedule a biopsy as soon as possible. Six days later, I had a biopsy, and on November 4, 2011, my world turned upside down. I was 48 years old when I heard “You have breast cancer.” Four words.  

Part of my story involves how and where I received my diagnosis. I am a lobbyist for a financial services company, and the day after my biopsy, I traveled to Washington, D.C., on a business trip. As every cancer patient knows, the thing that you crave the most is normalcy. While I didn’t yet know that I was a cancer patient, I craved normalcy. The thought of sitting at home and waiting for the results was unbearable to me. I was in a meeting room with about 75 people when my cellphone started ringing, and I could see it was the surgeon’s office. I made it out to the lobby where the diagnosis was delivered. It was as if all the air had left the building. All I wanted to do was to get back to my room to call my Mom. I held it together until she picked up the phone, and I burst into tears. I felt like a child who falls off her bike and doesn’t cry until she gets home and runs straight into her mother’s arms. 

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2B. I had a lumpectomy a week before Thanksgiving in 2011. My margins were not clean, and I had node involvement. I chose to have a single mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, and I have never regretted that decision. The surgery was four days before Christmas. I had eight rounds of chemo. I lost all of my hair and started reconstruction during chemo. I finished treatment on May 2, 2012 and had reconstructive surgery later that summer with the final surgery that fall. I am currently taking Letrozole after five years of Tamoxifen. I still have neuropathy in my feet, but it is gone from my hands. Now my four words are “You are a survivor.” 

I have met the most incredible people on this journey. I am proud to be a survivor, and I feel blessed every day. My fellow survivor thrivers are the bravest people I have ever met. They give me hope and courage every day. I hit the 9-year survivorship mark last November. Some days, it feels like yesterday, and other days, it feels like a lifetime ago. Some days, I scratch and claw my way through, but most days I just feel incredibly lucky. 

We must continue to fund the research that will eventually eradicate this monster. Together we can, and will, lift the veil on this horrendous disease. Together, we are stronger than cancer. Life changes in an instant. I really have no other words. I will NEVER stop telling my story and I will NEVER stop fighting for a cure. 

Here are my final four words to you — GO LIVE YOUR LIFE!