Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Brittany G.

The 2021 San Diego 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on November 21st was our final Virtual Kick-Off of the year. We loved getting together with our amazing 3-Day participants and getting to hear their stories. Brittany G. spoke at our evening celebration 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.

Hello! My name is Brittany and I am a young breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2017, just a few days after my 30th birthday. I found the lump on my own in the shower, just by accident! I was washing my armpit and my wrist grazed something that didn’t feel right. I got it checked out immediately. My doctor was hoping it was just a cyst or something, but wanted to play it safe, so she sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound, which lead to a biopsy and a positive result for breast cancer.

Things moved along quickly after that. Within a few weeks I had a single mastectomy and once I was recovered from that, I started chemo. Chemo was something I was really hoping to avoid, and so I sought multiple opinions from doctors, but they all said that would be my best option. I did cold capping throughout chemo so I was able to keep most of my hair. It was super helpful to have a sense of normalcy and be able to stay as private as I wanted about what I was going through with strangers at work and out in public.

Last day of chemo! November 2017

After chemo was over, I did five weeks of radiation and then immunotherapy, and finally after a very long year, I was done with surgeries and treatments and immediately got my port removed! I was ready to move on with my life and put breast cancer behind me. But the universe had other plans for me! Later on in 2018 I was having a routine chest MRI that found some lesions on my sternum. I had those biopsied and it ended up being MORE cancer. So treatment started up again — I got a new port, did more immunotherapy, and was on a chemo pill for a year. I also had surgery to remove my sternum and replace it with a fake one!

Sternum surgery — March 2019

Today, I am almost one year out from finishing treatment from that and so far my scans have all been clean! Earlier this year, I got a mastectomy cover up tattoo which was something I wanted to get from the very beginning. It was a perfect way to wrap up this part of the journey.

After my mastectomy tattoo — January 2019

Throughout my whole breast cancer journey, it was really important to me to live life like I normally would. Of course I rested when I needed to, but I continued to work full-time, exercise, travel and do things I love. I remember after my first chemo I asked the nurses what I was allowed to do that evening. They said whatever I felt up to, so my husband and I went to a baseball game! A few weeks after my first treatment we traveled to Canada, and the day I finished my last chemo treatment we flew to Vegas to celebrate! We even sold our house and bought a new one when I was in the middle of chemo. I guess you could say nothing can stop me!

I love to share my story because I feel like I am a great example of how breast cancer doesn’t care how old you are. I maintained positivity throughout, and it was SO helpful. If my positivity and story can help even one person, I’d say that is a success!

Over the years, even before I was diagnosed, I participated in Race for the Cure events and always aspired to do a 3-Day walk at some point. The Race for the Cure events were always amazing, so I can’t even imagine what a 3-Day event will be like! Last year my mother-in-law, who is also a survivor, signed up with me for the San Diego 3-Day. We are looking forward to walking together next year!

Bikers for Tatas Event — October 2017

Thank you, Brittany, for sharing your story and your amazing positivity — both at the San Diego 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off and again here for all to read. We can’t wait to see you experience your very first 3-Day next November! We know you’re going to love the Pink Bubble.

Liz Goldman’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

We are thrilled to induct another 3-Day participant into the Impact level of our Lifetime Commitment Circle. This exclusive honor is bestowed on those who have reached an incredible fundraising milestone—raising $250,000 for the 3-Day. Liz Goldman has been a part of the 3-Day family since 2004, and we are so inspired by her level of commitment. We asked Liz to answer a few questions so we could introduce you to this amazing woman.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?
In 2003, when I was 41 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. After over a year of treatment, I signed up to do my first 3-Day in New York City. My aunt had crewed in Atlanta before and recommended I get involved. I signed up to walk and my husband signed up to be a crew member.

I met a woman on that walk who had a cancer similar to mine, and she was receiving Herceptin as part of her protocol. I came home and immediately called my oncologist. It was already on his radar, and I started Herceptin shortly thereafter. The research behind Herceptin was funded by Susan G. Komen. To this day, I am convinced (as is my oncologist) that Herceptin saved my life. The New York 3-Day was my first walk, but I knew it would not be my last.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic is not easy, but how did you do it?
To be honest, considering the pandemic, I wasn’t sure whether I should try fundraising at all this year. I didn’t want to be insensitive to people’s current problems and worries. But I realized—despite the existence of the COVID-19 scourge, women (and men) were still going to hear those life changing words: “you have cancer.”

So, a group of us from the NY/NJ area who had become friends through our perennial 3-Days decided to band together in defiance! We would do our “own 3-Day” this year. And with that I was off to the fundraising races once again. My dear friend, hero, inspiration, and 3-Day mentor Burt L. had hit the $250K mark earlier this year, and I was about $39K away from that milestone. Some say it is my competitive nature (lol); I say I was on a mission!

I expressed to my all of my donors that COVID-19 bedamned, I was still doing my 3-Day walk and that I was on a mission to reach a coveted goal: $250,000.

Liz and Burt

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I wish I had a secret to share, but I really don’t. I can only tell you that I have very generous family and friends that have donated to me year after year. They have made my cause their cause, and I am incredibly grateful. I share my story, I “walk the talk” and I ask everyone I know (and many I don’t) for a donation. Honestly, with the cause on my mind so often, fundraising for the 3-Day becomes second nature.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the huge boost I receive from everyone I know and love. Their cheerleading and encouragement give me strength and inspire me to carry on with my mission of living in a world without breast cancer. And my husband Win leads the way. He has been a crew member (a much harder job than walking 60 miles) every year that I have walked. Breast cancer was not just my diagnosis, but his as well. Every one of my 3-Day walks, and every dollar I have raised, would not have been possible without his support and love.

Liz and her husband Win

What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
The answer to this question is easy but unfortunate: I will walk until I can’t, or until there is no need to, whichever comes first. There are too many women (and men) who still hear those words “you have breast cancer.” Their lives are turned upside down emotionally, mentally, and of course physically while going through difficult treatment. Sadly, too many still die, leaving behind loved ones way too early in life. I know that many have walked before me, and I benefited from their commitment and efforts. The funds they raised helped bring about early detection, and new treatments and protocols that give a better quality of life during treatment, resulting in extended and saved lives. I feel it is my obligation to pay it back and pay it forward.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
There are so many! The beautiful cities I’ve walked in and the lasting friendships I have made over the years will always fill my heart. Those very cute San Diego police officers who dance in their very cute uniforms, the cheering stations, the food, the rest stops, the food, the decorations, the food—well, you get the idea.

Unfortunately there are bittersweet ones as well: a daughter walking because her mom just passed away, a husband walking because he just lost his wife, a newly married young woman who just had a bi-lateral mastectomy at the age of 28. I hold onto these tearful memories just as tightly as the joyous ones, to remind me that I cannot stop walking.

Liz on the San Diego 3-Day

Now that you’ve raised $250,000 what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
I just want to keep “walking the talk.” I am dedicated to training for the 3-Day, raising as much money as I can and spreading the word about breast cancer and Susan G. Komen.   

For my 20th survivorship celebration in two years, I would like to do all the 3-Day walks that year and have my son and daughter join me on one. They have always been my reasons for everything. My cancer diagnosis was aggressive and quite frankly the outcome was not looking so positive when I was initially diagnosed. I am so grateful to be alive and be part of their lives every day.

Liz, her son Jason, and her daughter Kara from Boston 2013, her 10-Year Celebration

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
In the same spirit I mustered to do battle against this disease from a personal standpoint, I now do battle on a global basis, on behalf of all those women and men who deserve the same outcome I have enjoyed since being pronounced cancer-free.

Beginning with my first 3-Day, my thoughts about my cancer and my thoughts about the 3-Day have become more and more intertwined, to the point where when I share my story about breast cancer, the 3-Day is always, always a part of it.

I have always said, “It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
I think of the 3-Day as the perfect combination of celebration, remembrance, and forward-looking determination.

It’s a celebration of the strides we’ve made and a joyous gathering of everyone who, by their very presence, is a part of the Komen family and, as such, my extended family.

The remembrance is the solemn bittersweetness we feel and think of when remembering and honoring all those lost to this disease.  

The forward-looking determination is the knowledge of how much good has come from what we have all contributed to the 3-Day, and the drive toward building on that foundation of progress, helping to create a brighter future for the world by eradicating breast cancer.

I am proud and honored to be a part of the 3-Day.

Thank you, Liz, for your many years of dedication to the 3-Day and our mission to end breast cancer. We’re honored to be such an important part of your life and are lucky to have you as part of our family. The incredible amount of money you’ve raised is working to save and extend the lives of thousands of women and men facing breast cancer.

Liz’s achievement will qualify her for the Impact level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. She joins Loretta E., Kathy G., Bert S., and Burt L. as Impact members at the $250,000 level.

Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Barbara B.

We had such an amazing time with our 3-Day family at the 2021 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on November 7th. One big reason was getting to hear from a couple of our inspiring 3-Day walkers. Barbara B. (BB) spoke at our evening celebration 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.

Good Afternoon everyone! I’m BB, 😊 your motorcycle mad, corner cut-up, tutu-toting route safety lady from Atlanta. Although we are all participating where we are and just “together” virtually, I know you stretched, danced and stayed safe (’cause I sent all y’all those vibes all day long).

Growing up I’d heard of cancer; it’s bad, people get very sick. I was remotely aware of someone who lost their battle with cancer. Cancer support was something done randomly as a small donation. Then cancer became a very scary word. That word was devastating when I heard the statement, “He has cancer.”

When my son Mathew was just two years old, cancer crashed into my life with his diagnosis of neuroblastoma. He went from a vibrant active little boy to a warrior fighting for his life. I had to be an advocate, a nurse, and a Mom. I couldn’t do that without those cancer supporters who provided me with the knowledge — about the disease, the treatments, and what to expect.

As cancer and the treatments ravaged his little body — we turned again and again to the various services provided by supporting agencies for emotional support, especially for his older sister, whose friends and classmates couldn’t comprehend what cancer meant and what she was dealing with. We received financial support for those costs that you don’t always consider, like custom bandages, travel, and even meals and lodging at the hospital. Unfortunately, the day came when the cancer support I needed was counseling, when I said my final goodbyes to my 4-year old warrior, hero, and son.

Cancer — it’s one small word, but it’s a horrible disease with so many forms that know no boundaries. It can strike the young, the old, the poor, the wealthy, the mothers, the fathers, the sons, and the daughters. As this scourge invaded my family: my aunts, my uncles and then down into my cousins, my primary doctor took this as a warning and wanted me to have a mammogram. She told me, “I know you are young but with your family history and your breast density, you need to get this done and at least this will give us a baseline. With what your family has endured, I want to keep my eyes on you.” (It’s great to have a physician who supports not just your physical well-being, but also understands your mental health.) Of course, at age 34 my insurance balked at such a procedure, questioning, “Is it unnecessary?” She is not of age yet.” My doctor’s persistence began my journey.

She reached out to the local Komen Affiliate and introduced me to the wonderful family of Susan G Komen advocacy. Together we presented my case — the worries, the family history, the breast density, etc. I was accepted and given a scan. I had no idea what the scan would entail other than they were going to take a “closer look inside my breast tissue.” Boy was that a painful, pressure-induced eye opener. 😊 But I thought, “I did it, we’ve got a baseline. I’m too young, everything will be OK”. Just 72 short hours later I heard words that were scary and confusing: “We see several masses in your scan, you need to come in for more tests.”

Now, as a momma bear, fighting for my son and my family came naturally. Researching, asking, discussing, and fighting for the best is what I do. But when the diagnosis came and it was about me, I froze in fear and felt a black hole open in front of me of isolation and inevitability. <<Big Sigh>>

I was not alone. I had the Susan G. Komen family in my corner, at my side and holding me up. The next days were spent meeting advocates, others in treatments, reading materials, websites and pamphlets and books. The support and guidance were like a rain shower that rejuvenates. With their help I learned the options and the opportunities and started to believe all would be OK.

Of course, trying to convince my young teenage daughter (who was just blooming into her own womanhood) that this menace was a different type of cancer, and her mother’s life would not end in the same tragedy that ended her younger brother’s life, was a challenge indeed. But again, with the resources of information and contacts that Susan G. Komen put us in contact with, she put on her gloves and fought by my side.

In 2006 I had a radical double mastectomy, chemo and radiation. This took a couple of years to maneuver and recover. At the time, I was involved in trying to pay it forward for childhood cancer, via St. Jude’s for all they did for my son, for us and to try to help other families.

With the support they were giving me, I just knew I would become involved with Susan G. Komen so that I could pay it forward to help families fight against breast cancer. I signed up to be a survivor advocate with my local Komen Affiliate and through them found out about the 3-Day. Of course I signed up!

But then I was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer. The treatments and research done by Komen were some of the life-saving treatments I received then as well. Komen is always doing amazing work. It took me another couple of years, but I finally got back to the 3-Day in 2012 when by luck, a friend reached out because they needed help with Route Safety.

I had no idea what I was signing up for other than I knew I would be on my motorcycle and supporting the 3-Day walkers. I would be cheering and raising awareness around my city. I have a feeling the Komen family didn’t know what they signed up for when they asked me to participate. <Grin>

I’ve been on the Route Safety crew ever since. I’ve been blessed to help some amazing walking teams with local fundraisers, which always, in some type of way, seems to let me help a family by sharing the story of Komen and all the programs and support they provide. The more I became involved, the more I wanted to do, so several years ago I decided to put my vacation days towards supporting the 3-Day in other cities. My Pink family has grown beyond expectations and fills my heart with such joy it’s hardly containable.

I’ve found such a wonderful additional family — a supporting family — a FUN family in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day! From the first volunteer event to this coming year of actually {gulp} walking two events, this organization has fit every asset of my personality and needs to a T. I love all the supporting hugs, encouraging words, hard-working, loving, and even the craziest of costumes.

These 3-Day events are something I look forward to each and every day of the year. I can’t help but brag about all you do and all it means; mere words can’t describe the experience. To date I’ve personally raised over $20,000! I overcame my shyness to help raise money, as research is the foundation for a cure. I’ve overcome my hesitancy to become involved, because I know from personal experience how much these support systems mean. But more importantly, I know how much it will take to end this scourge we call cancer.

The 3-Day heals me in a way that no medicine could, every time I crew. I crew because for three days I can escape the cancer that has followed me for years. For three days I am surrounded by people like me, people with similar scars to me, similar nightmares to me. It’s a place where I don’t feel different.

The 60-mile journey with the walkers is a time for me to heal and rejoice in surviving. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is hard, but it’s not as hard as breast cancer. It’s not as hard as chemo. It’s not as hard as getting bad news at your latest scan. It’s not as hard as saying goodbye. And that’s why I know I have to do this. That’s why I commit.

Thank you, BB, for being so brave and sharing the story of your journey and everything your family has been through — both at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off and again here for all to read. We can’t wait to welcome you back to the 2021 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day next November!

To hear more inspiring stories like this, you have one more chance by attending our San Diego 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on November 21st. RSVP today.