In recognition of Father’s Day, we asked 3-Day walker John S., who lost his daughter to breast cancer, to reflect on what being a father means to him and why he thinks supporting Susan G. Komen is so important.
Father’s Day is a day where we as fathers celebrate those incredibly unique and precious relationships with our families and children. As a father who lost a young daughter to metastatic breast cancer, it evokes the fondest of memories, endless thoughts of what could have been while leaving a hole in your heart. No matter the age of a daughter, they are “forever your little girl.” It also demands that you ask yourself what you can do to support the fight against breast cancer and end this disease.
Last year I participated for the first time in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in San Diego. I initially registered in the summer of 2020, because our sweet daughter Melissa passed away from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 36 the previous year on November 21, 2019. The summer of 2020, we were in the depths of COVID and I was thinking of how I would spend the first anniversary of her passing. I heard of the San Diego 3-Day and coincidentally the Saturday of the event was the first anniversary date of her passing. Melissa had been involved in the fight against breast cancer. She was very impassioned about the cause. I thought it was the perfect way for me to be with my thoughts of her and a way to continue her legacy. The same day I signed up for the event I received a call just hours later to tell me they had to postpone the walk to 2021. As it turns out, the 2021 San Diego 3-Day Closing Ceremony was on the second anniversary of her passing.
Initially, I wanted to walk alone with my thoughts about Melissa in the sea of walkers. As the time drew near, a colleague in California invited me to join a team and I agreed. I joined Sally’s “Hands Up for Hooters” team to walk with others. Earlier this year as part of its 2022 fundraising, this team passed the $1 million cumulative mark! It was the best decision I could have made, as I realized that no one impacted by breast cancer should make the journey alone. I was also honored to speak at the Opening Ceremony about Melissa’s passing, her fight against breast cancer, and taking “Action,” one of the four approaches of Komen. Here’s what I said:
“Two years ago this Sunday, our sweet daughter Melissa passed away at the age of 36 of metastatic breast cancer after a four-year fight. She left behind her husband and two little girls ages 4 and 6. For years, she counseled women going through radiation treatment for breast cancer and served as both a spokesperson and fundraiser in the fight against breast cancer. I commit to do what I can to honor her legacy and continue her plea “that every woman under the age of 40, with a family history of breast cancer, be encouraged and provided an opportunity for a mammogram.” Also, to raise financial support for Susan G. Komen in finding a cure so that no parent will ever have to deliver a eulogy for a daughter dying of this disease.”
Participating in the 3-Day event has been life changing as I am sure it has been or will be for this year’s new participants. To witness the grit and joy of the walkers including survivors, their emotional support network, and the generosity of their donors is truly inspirational. Since signing up for the San Diego 3-Day I have become moved to be more involved with Susan G. Komen by participating in the local walk, fundraising, legislative advocacy, and as a member of the Komen Leadership Council in Central Texas.
Particularly on this Father’s Day, I am grateful as a father for the opportunity to support Susan G. Komen and the 3-Day. It not only helps to keep sweet Melissa’s legacy alive but also supports the survivors and their supporters in their journeys in finding the cures for breast cancer. With that I would like to share a short video about Melissa, being a father of a daughter passing away from breast cancer and why we walk. https://youtu.be/_fc3g0qKZCo
I wish you and yours a Happy Father’s Day and a wonderful 3-Day experience!