Every once in a while, we hear a story from one of our Susan G. Komen 3-Day participants that really captures our imagination. That reminds us, “We are part of something really, truly special.” When Michelle Yelovina told us the story of her team, the Deepwater Dames, and how they commemorated the 2020 Chicago 3-Day that wasn’t, we knew we had to share it with all of you.
We’ll let Michelle tell it in her own words.
“I’m team captain for the Deepwater Dames. We are a team of women who work offshore on an oil drilling ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Normally I walk alone and have been supported and sponsored for the last 10 years by my coworkers out here (I’m offshore now). Last year while I walked the San Diego 3-Day, one of the rigs I was formerly on held their own “3-Day helideck walk.” They walked laps around the deck where the helicopter lands (23 laps make a mile). They logged the miles and the captain and clients pledged $1 a mile. As a group the crew walked a total of 242 miles during those three days and raised almost $3,500 for me.
“This year I recruited some of the ladies I work with (there are just a few) and we formed the team Deepwater Dames aka DD’s. I was supposed to walk in Chicago this year, but as you know it’s not happening. So we decided to have the captain of our vessel (Asgard) challenge the vessel that walked “with” me last year (Proteus). The challenge was to see who could walk the most miles and who could raise the most money. The challenge would take place September 11-13 (the dates that the Chicago 3-Day was to take place). I wanted to be a part of the Virtual Kick-Off, but our internet connection out here is spotty at best so I wasn’t able to.
“I started doing these 3-Day walks in 2008. I wanted to see if I could walk the 60 miles and thought the whole idea was really cool. My mother’s best friend had died from breast cancer and I adored her. So I walked Michigan and only did 50 miles. So in 2010 I tried again in Boston and only walked 37 miles. In 2012 I was determined to walk all 60 if I had to crawl across the finish line. And I did it!!!! I met an amazing woman whom I walked most of that journey with and she had done two walks back to back. When I finished the walk she was there and asked me what I was going to do now that I had made my goal and walked all 60, to which I replied, ‘I’ll walk two in one year.’
“I signed up for the Cleveland and Tampa 3-Days in 2013. On my Cleveland walk I met George Nummer, who slowed down to walk with me because he saw I was struggling. He asked me if I had gotten a mammogram. I was only 37, young for a mammogram, but still promised him that I would get one, thinking it would be a good baseline for when I turned 40. I walked all 60 miles in Cleveland, went to Tampa and walked all 60 there as well.
“I made an appointment with my doctor after my insurance kicked in as I had just started a new job. I told her the story and she ordered the mammogram so I could keep my promise to George. I received the call later that night. After seeing my results, my doctor referred me to a specialist. I had a biopsy and the results showed I had DCIS.
Caught very early, it required only a lumpectomy and 36 rounds of radiation. In 2016 I walked my first 3-Day as a survivor with my guardian angel George. In 2018 I found out about George’s wife Christine being diagnosed with cancer and passing from it shortly after. I promised George I would meet him in San Diego for the final 3-Day of 2019 and I did.
“A journey for someone else’s life turned into a journey for my own. Aside from the blisters, memories and wonderful friends, the 3-Day days has given me a life I get to live and a living guardian angel that I got to meet face to face.”
Now, how did that deepwater rig challenge go?
“Between the two rigs, we walked 421 miles and raised $4000 for Susan G. Komen. The Asgard won and our captain was drenched with pink water and silly string as a reward.
We had awesome sunrises and sunsets to walk to and cupcakes and cookies to ease the pain of walking on a steel deck.
The enthusiasm and support were amazing and there is even talk of hosting another while we are walking in Chicago next year.
Here is an email Michelle got from the Proteus:
Michelle, Amanda, & Capt. Rick, et al
Sorry for the delayed response, we had to take a TOFS [time out for safety] for Hurricane Sally. I really wanted to thank everyone for their show of support for the Walk. I think we all agree that this is a noble cause, and directly, or indirectly, it touches us all.
Since I have known Michelle, she has been a one person show in the fight. Last year I thought, instead of just money, I wanted to show solidarity, so we decided to walk alongside her in spirit. In the last year, she has found a colleague in Amanda, and it would seem, the entire crew of the Asgard, so well done!
What I propose next year, is not a Proteus and Asgard re-match, I want to include all the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, or the fleet, who want to participate. And I will gladly accept the help of the Deepwater Dames to help organize, as they have proven to be quite the marketing strategist, what with the t-shirt and bake sales, raffles, etc.! The 2021 3-Day will be in Chicago 1-3 October. Michelle and Amanda plan to walk, and Team Proteus will walk as well! By including all the rigs, we can make an even greater impact!
Last year’s Proteus Helideck Walk for the Cure was not conceived as a competition, just a walk to show our support, raise awareness, and have a bit of fun. And I think going forward we should keep it to a unified show of force to help support the fight for a cure, not a competition among crews! That said, once Hurricane Sally had moved on, I had a chance to total all our miles. Team Proteus walked a total of 226.6 miles, so…we win! See you all in October!
Capt. E. Lee Crowe, III
It’s amazing how far the Pink Bubble expands – all the way into the ocean!