Sister, Sister: Meet Angela and Shelly

The bond between sisters is truly unique and special, but the bond between “Titsters” is even deeper! Just ask Angela and Shelly, a sister duo who are part of the 3 Day family. Angela is currently battling breast cancer, and Shelly walks for Team Titster in the Twin Cities 3-Day in her honor.

From a young age, these two were joined at the hip, which meant Angela getting all her hair cut off when Shelly wanted to play “beauty parlor” or putting on plays and concerts together in their neighborhood. These “Titsters,” Angela’s childhood name for her sister, have been there for each other through it all.

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That journey and support also includes Angela’s ongoing fight with breast cancer, one that Shelly has been a part of since Angela’s diagnosis. Angela was initially diagnosed with cancer when she was seven months pregnant, and her sister “was there immediately to ensure she was there for the birth of my baby girl and to hold my hand during my first chemotherapy. During that chemotherapy, all we did was laugh at videos, reminisce on memories, and I think about that more than being sick after the treatment.”

“After I completed my treatment after my first round of breast cancer, I went to a pretty dark place. The mental and physical struggle after treatment can be more challenging than anything. Woman and men feel more alone than ever. They have constant help, messages, and support during treatment, but what happens after is way more crucial. During treatment, we are in survival mode and cannot fully comprehend that we are going through cancer. Once treatment is done, the messages and help dwindle but the pain is still there. Our body is adjusting and still combatting the toll of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation. Mentally, we never recover. The constant thought of recurrence always lingers and life is never the same. At the same time, we gain strength in a different way and look at the world and see that life is a gift. We cherish memories differently, we see the kindness of family and our community, and know that every day counts.”

Angela’s treatment will continue for the rest of her life, as she was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in January of 2016. Stage IV research made up nearly 40% of Susan G. Komen’s overall research investment in 2016, with more than $166 million in funding for over 400 research grants and more than 40 clinical trials focused on metastatic disease to date. Aside from research and monetary support, Angela says she is constantly amazed by the support she receives from her family and even the community at large.

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“What is so enlightening with all these clinical trials is that everything is so new at this point. And it is scary regardless, but what I like to tell people is that every day is a gift, but also a battle. Cancer is not going to control my life. It’s always going to be a part of me, but it does not define me.

“I’m also confident that I will live my life to inspire people and show people that despite being diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t define you. I keep a happy journal, and at the end of every day I write my favorite part of the day, whether it’s a wonderful moment with my kids or a great conversation with my sister.”

3day20153Angela also credits Shelly as her rock, even from states away.

“The bond I have with my sister has helped me tremendously with this struggle and she truly showcases the bond that sisters have. She was there to comfort me and help me understand this it’s okay to still cry, but more importantly to laugh. We live in different states and I know that signing up for the 3-Day was just another way to show that she’s always there to face my battles with me, even if we cannot do it together.”

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Part of Shelly’s support has come through her involvement in the 3-Day, which began as a crew member and has continued as a walker and fundraiser for the team she formed last year, Team Titster. Her first year on the 3-Day was a monumental one.

“When I signed up to be in the crew, part of the sign-up mentioned possibly being a part of the Opening or Closing Ceremony, speaking and carrying the sister flag,” Shelly explained when talking about speaking at her first walk. “The day before the walk at Crew Training, I met a bunch of very friendly, fun gals, who when I spoke on stage the next morning, cheered me on, even though I was nervous, and even though I was a stranger to them up until the day before. That has been my experience with everyone connected to the walk. Just good people.”

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For her second year with the 3 Day, Shelly took to the trails and walked in her sister’s honor.

“When I decided to walk the next year, I was a little intimidated by the fundraising. But I found that when I reached out to my network to let them know why I was walking, and asked them to consider donating, people were more than willing to support me and Angie and the cause. I also found that almost every one of them had a connection to breast cancer. That alone is sad, but it motivated me even more to walk for those who also had loved ones battling or had battled the disease.”

Shelly helped her fundraising cause by casting a wide net for her initial email ask with a link to her page, along with a write up about Angela and a picture of “my little sister hero.” She also writes a 3-Day blog and shares that along with thank you cards to all her supporters to help them feel like they were there for her journey along the 60 miles.

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When she started Team Titster in her third year on the 3-Day, Shelly expanded her fundraising email list and worked on her social media to raise even more. She targeted her competitive spirit and eventually raised more than $2,000 more than her first year. She was also the #7 Top Fundraiser for the Twin Cities 3-Day.

This success is no surprise to Angela, who has always been inspired and supported by their sisterhood.

“Shelly has always been my role model, and is someone that I’m inspired to be like. She is always the first person I want to talk to when I’m having a bad day, but more importantly, I want to talk to her in my great days.”

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The love is certainly mutual, with Shelly calling Angela a super hero.

“Angie is small in stature but big in personality, perseverance and mostly in heart. She is feisty and fun, outgoing and stubborn, and those are all things we have in common. […] I realize that I have the best sister in the world. She doesn’t judge me, she’s been there for me when others have not been, and I am so proud of her in every way possible. Angie is my heart.”

That heart is going to finally experience the 3-Day for the first time this year. Angela will be making the trip from Chicago to the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2017 to cheer on Team Titster, which Shelly hopes to grow this year as well.

“I’m excited to be there the first time to cheer on my sister and Team Titster!” Angela enthuses. “I’m also happy to be able to volunteer and see the 3-Day. I’m thrilled and a bit nervous for the emotional experience but more importantly, I can’t wait to see and listen to the inspiring stories, and to hold the hands of Team Titster and fellow walkers.

“I know this walk means a lot to Shelly, and I know that every mile she walks, she truly is walking in my shoes to take some of the pain away. I’ve always looked up to my sister. She has more determination, heart and spirit than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve also come to realize that those qualities are what inspires me to fight harder every day.”

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Shelly echoes that determination, saying that the 3-Day is “emotional (lots of crying, both happy and heart wrenching), challenging (walking and training to walk 60 miles is no easy feat), and unforgettable (experiences and memories that are priceless and make you want to come back).”

Both Angela and Shelly will continue to come back as walkers, volunteers or supporters, until a cure is found.

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“There is still no cure for breast cancer,” Shelly states simply. “That in itself gives me purpose and determination to keep doing the walks. My favorite button on my 3-Day water pack is ‘Every Blister Saves a Sister.’ I am prone to blisters, no matter how much training I do, (last year, I had 11 by the end of Day 3) so walking until there is a cure is something I feel like I can do, and will try to keep doing until there is no more breast cancer. Blisters do not hurt, physically or emotionally, as much as cancer does. And of course, my sister inspires me, not just to do the walk, but she inspires me every day.”

The power of sisterhood on the 3-Day is real, and every step makes a difference.

 

New Not-to-Miss 3-Day Infographics

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We are now less than six months away from the first 3-Day of 2017, so it’s time to kick your training, recruiting and fundraising into high gear! When you’re reaching out to people for donations, or to ask them to walk with you, it’s natural that people might have questions about the impact of the 3-Day.

Luckily, Susan G. Komen has created new infographics that make it easy to answer these questions, and to learn more about the cause you are working so hard for. You can see the full range of infographics on the 3 Day website, or easily download some of the newest additions below.

These are eye-catching and to-the-point breakdowns to motivate you, and those around you, to continue working and walking towards a cure.

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Fact Sheet

You can also get artistic at your next team meeting or night off from training with our 3-Day coloring page. It’s also a fun way to get your family involved in your cause. Host a coloring night and talk to your at-home team about why you’re walking!

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If you want more information about Susan G. Komen and the 3-Day, reach out to your local coaches with questions, or check out the 3-Day website to find answers to Frequently Asked Questions, along with more information about the 3-Day experience.

Hosting an Introductory Team Meeting

So you’ve formed a 3-Day team. You’ve recruited your team members. Congrats! Now that you have people who are interested in walking with you, you need to get everyone in the same place so your team can meet, brainstorm, plan, and have fun!

It’s time to host your introductory team meeting. But how?

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Photo via Eric Rothermel

Pick a date. And have a back-up date.

With today’s crazy schedules and conflicting calendars, it can be tough to find a time that works for every one of your team members. Do your best to find a good date, but don’t make yourself crazy. If there are a few people who can’t make it, set up a back-up time so they can still be introduced to the 3-Day. Even if it’s one-on-one over coffee, or with a smaller group, it’s important to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Use your experts.

If you or someone else on your team has walked before, tap them for knowledge. Meet with them beforehand to pull sample donor letters, talk about packing lists, and brainstorm fundraising ideas. That way, when you meet with the larger group, you’ll already have some talking points set.

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Photo via Claudia Viloria

Create a comfortable space.

When the big day comes, hold the meeting in your kitchen, family room, or other welcoming space. You want first time walkers or team members who might not know everyone to feel like they are entering a safe space where they can speak their minds. Also, everyone loves food, so have a variety of snacks, desserts and drinks ready for the choosing. Make sure everything can be eaten without utensils, and is ideally bite-sized, so people can chat and dine at the same time.

Have a plan.

Before your meeting starts, decide what you want to accomplish. Do you just want to give people the chance to meet and share why they walk? Would you like to plan your first team fundraising event? Should people come with a draft of their donor letter? Make sure your guests know the goal in advance so they can do any needed preparation.

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Photo via Glenn Carstons Peters

Prepare your answers.

There are some questions you know people are going to ask, especially if they’re first time walkers. Luckily, we have already answered many of them for you! Take a look at our FAQ to have talking points ready, share information about  meetings and events in your area so your team can bond with others, and print out these infographics about the 3-Day for team members to keep handy. Check out all of the available resources at The3Day.org/Teams.

The more you have set up in advance, the easier it will be for the meeting to flow naturally and accomplish a lot.

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Get “active” with activities!

Get your team moving and thinking by incorporating fun activities that promote fundraising. Hang a tablecloth to make an at-home photo booth and take selfies with print outs of these fundraising progress graphics for them to post on social media. You can also host a “How to Write Fundraising Letters” workshop with samples, or color the 3-Day coloring page (above).

Have a take away.

Even though this is a “meeting,” that doesn’t mean it has to feel formal. Give each team member a fun take away, along with any pertinent information, so they can leave with something to remind them of their first team gathering. You can use the craft and treat ideas on our Creative Fundraising Pinterest page to make gifts for your team, then make extras to use for your own fundraising. These can also get others’ creative juices flowing for their own future fundraising endeavors.

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Photo via Leonardo Wong

Don’t forget, if you have more questions, you can always reach out to your local coaches for more information and ideas!

What are your tips for hosting a team meeting? Comment below and share with us!

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