A Daughter’s Love, A Doctor’s Support: Robin Elm’s 3-Day Story

Robin Eggert Elm has been walking the 3-Day since 2002, first with her mom and sister, and now with an ever-growing team. Since that time, she has lost family members, endured hardship, and found a new home in Greensboro, Georgia. She has also made a new friend in her neighbor, Dr. Radha Vemuri, an oncologist who has support her 3-Day journey and many other breast cancer charities and research projects for years. Recently, Dr. Vemuri was diagnosed with brain cancer, prompting Robin to reach out to share his story…and her own…with the 3-Day community.

She says that Dr. Vemuri, or Radha to her, has been a constant source of support for her and her family over the years.

“He’s supported me in my 3-Day walks and he’s shared his commitment with me. He was originally from Kalamazoo, which is about 40 minutes from my parents. In 2017, my mom went in for a chest x-ray as they thought she had pneumonia. Once they began talking about other cancers, I called Radha immediately.”

Robin and her mother (left)

Robin’s mother passed away from meslotheomia in July of that year, after inspiring “dozens of walkers including my sister and me, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, and friends” to join in the 3-Day with her. Robin still walks in her mother’s memory, and with the support of Dr. Vemuri. She shared the story of that journey with us…

And how has Dr. Vemuri supported you and the 3-Day’s mission?

He continually advocates and supports initiatives for breast cancer education.

He says that as a doctor, ‘It is deeply disturbing to me that, in Greene County, more than half the women in the African-American community who are diagnosed with breast cancer will die from breast cancer. The national average for breast cancer mortality is 1-in-5. Our rate is more than twice the national average. That is unacceptable. Through education, screening and getting more women into the healthcare system, we can do much better.’

Radha was also a godsend to our family throughout my mom’s cancer journey. From the early days before her diagnosis through hospice and death, he selflessly gave his time and supported our family.

Why is it so important that people continue to support the 3-Day?

Simply, because we can. I travel all over the country for business. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t have a breast cancer story. As one of my client’s told me, “I was impressed that you walk, but really didn’t understand it all until my daughter did the walk.” It’s not just writing a donation check. It’s making a commitment. It’s seeing, hearing and experiencing why we need to find a cure.

Tell us some of your fondest 3-Day memories with your family!

The memories are really those of a lifetime. It would be impossible to articulate what our support of Susan G. Komen has meant to our family. We receive so much more than we give. Our entire family, not just the walkers, share their Komen stories. My nieces couldn’t wait until they were old enough to do the walk. When my brother’s triplets were three, they had a lemonade stand “for the cure.” Then, years later when one of their hockey teammate’s mother was diagnosed, they told their story and got everyone to paint pink ribbons on their helmets. My niece started bedazzling bras for all the walkers.  Last year, all the guys also had bedazzled bras. My husband likes telling how his came in handy to hold snacks and a small water bottle. I love our family pictures after closing ceremony with a couple dozen family members in matching shirts who cheered us on.

Some other true highlights were:

  • At the 2014 Twin Cities walk, we walked for a while with a family. The grandmother, who had done many walks, was being pushed in a wheelchair by her 15-year old grandson, Austin. She had walked with her other grandchildren and wanted to live long enough to walk with him. […]  One month to the day later, I lost my own son, also named Austin.
  • In 2015 Atlanta, at lunch on Day 3, my mom started talking to a crew member who had dragonfly earrings as dragonflies are an important symbol to our family, representing the cycle of life and death. My mom told her about the loss of my son. Later at Closing Ceremonies, someone tapped my mom on the shoulder. It was the crew member and her husband. She told my mom that each year she finds ‘her person’ but “I hadn’t found my person on this walk until I met you. I want you to have my earrings.” We still have no idea how she found my mom among that massive crowd! My mom kept the earrings on her nightstand. They remained there until she died. Now, my cousin, a survivor, wears them.
  • Finally, at the San Diego 2017 Opening Ceremonies, we looked up and saw a rainbow and just knew my mom was with us.

As a long-time veteran, what are your top fundraising tips for the 3-Day?

Tell your story. I walk in honor of someone different each year and interview them for my fundraising letter. I try to find honorees who’ve been impacted differently.

One year, I walked for my mom’s friend’s daughter. She was 15 and lost her mom. She told me, “I grew up with breast cancer. I had no one to talk to. No one I knew had a mom with breast cancer.”

Another year, I walked for a local woman I never met. She had contacted a local charity for support.  When I interviewed her, she said, “I never thought this would be me. I work. When I got divorced, I was going through treatment and got dropped from my husband’s insurance. I couldn’t pay my medical expenses and my other bills. I want to fight this, so I can support others.”

In 2018, Robin walked in honor of Dr. Vemuri. She will continue to walk as long as she can, fighting for a cure.

Do you have a 3-Day story like Robin? Do you want to show support for someone who has helped you on your 3-Day journey? Share them with us here!

Focusing on Spreading Positivity with Survivor and 3-Dayer, Elaine

When I walked across the finish line, and my son wrapped me up in a hug and whispered, “I’m so proud of you Mom,” that went straight from my ear to my heart.

If you walked the 3-Day in Seattle or Atlanta this year, you likely saw Elaine. Or heard her! She’s a solo walker known for her constant smile and jingling outfits that signal her presence even before you see her coming.

This year marked her 9th and 10th 3-Days respectively, and her first year really highlighting her survivor story as part of our partnership with Mohawk Flooring. She says that recognition was never really something she looked for, and as a solo walker, not something she always got. She flew under the radar and made her 3-Day connections in the smaller moments. This year changed that for her.

“To have Mark say ‘Hi!’ to me by name in the morning, or to see the photographer on the route, I feel like the arms have truly been opened to me and I have been fully welcomed into the fold. And I have felt that support and recognition so much this year. I’ve been able to share my story and my message this year in a different way, even after doing this for 8 years. The arms have been opened wide. It’s a beautiful thing and a beautiful welcome.”

The 3-Day family first welcomed Elaine eight years ago, when she walked her first 3-Day while in the middle of radiation. She had already signed up for the 3-Day before her diagnosis and had even sent out more than 100 fundraising letters! She knew she knew she had reached her fundraising goals and felt that she could meet her physical goals as well. Her doctor gave her approval to walk and told her to listen to her body. So, she did. And she walked every one of those 60 miles.

Along the way, she had her first welcome from the 3-Day Pink Bubble.

“I met two Crew ladies on my first walk in Seattle. I was nervous about wearing a survivor shirt and they just enveloped me in this hug. And I was bawling, and they just kept telling me that I could do this. And to be held by them, and feel that support, was everything to me.”

She has continued to have similar memories and stories over the last decade, making new friends each year and finding new strength with every step.

“Whatever you believe in, it’s a comfort to know that there’s a plan. And it’s tough to think, “How could this be part of a plan?” But meeting those ladies on my first 3-Day, or talking to women in Atlanta this year, it just shows me that these things are meant to be this way.

I’m a pretty positive person, and I try to focus on that positive outcome. So, this has been my way to do my part.”

She also does her part year-round, fundraising all year and encouraging those around her to learn about their breast health.

“I want to shake strangers and remind people to go get their mammograms! Just go do it! Early detection is everything. I talk to everybody, whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month or not.”

She finished her 10th walk during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year, and her son was there to welcome her across the finish line. Though her journey has been long and difficult, she says being a survivor has helped her find more compassion for herself daily, and that the 3-Day has shown her the worth that she brings to the world time and time again.

“It is so much more filled with compassion for me, and for anyone else who has this diagnosis. I can be so much nicer to myself, and the 3-Day helped me with that.

The universe draws us to where we need to be. The universe drew me here to the 3-Day.”

Cold Weather Training Ideas

Winter officially starts next week, but that doesn’t mean cold weather hasn’t hit much of the country already. That means if you’re already training for 2019, or just want to get a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions, the cold can put a damper on your work out goals. But don’t let the weather hold you back! Here are some ideas for ways to make the most of cold weather training this month and into the new year…

Layer Up

You can always remove layers as you walk, so add more layers than you think you’ll need. Always be sure to add a hat and gloves because you lose heat fast through your hands and the top of your head. Then layer on thin shirts, sweatshirts and coats or whatever you feel most comfortable with. Better to be a warm walker than a cold one!

Never forget to hydrate

This is KEY. Just because you’re cold, does NOT mean you don’t need water or other hydration during your training. Drink as you walk and try to stay away from dehydrating drinks like coffee or tea for a bit after your work-out.

Limit your mileage

Tackle your mileage goal throughout the day in smaller amounts. It will make the steps go quicker and let you conquer the other parts of your day with ease. Plus, you don’t want to be out in the cold that long! So, instead of trying to walk 15 miles in a row, break it up throughout the day. Do an early morning gym visit and walk half of your goal, then do a quick outside walk after work. You’ll get the same number of steps, but in a more manageable fashion.

Choose your route carefully

If you are walking outside, be certain that you’re walking someplace familiar and pay close attention to the terrain with each step. If the sidewalks have not been cleared of ice and snow, walk in the street. Also, be on the lookout for black ice! Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If you get lost in a snow drift, they’ll want to know where to start looking!

Get your groove on

Did you know we have a cold weather Spotify playlist especially made to motivate you during the winter? Add it to your phone and let it fuel your steps! A good song from your favorite artist is just what you need for motivation.

Stay indoors (if you must)

Just because its nasty outside, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for training! Find someplace indoors to get moving. While we don’t recommend that you do all your 3-Day training on a treadmill, it’s a perfectly good alternative to outdoor walking if you need it. No treadmill? Throw on your shoes and walk on an indoor track, through a shopping mall, or up and down the stairs in your office building.

Get your cardio in different ways

If you don’t like walking inside, don’t worry, you can get your cardio some other way! From spin class to group cardio and barre work outs, there are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping inside this season. Make the most of winter!

What are your favorite winter training ideas? Share them with us in the comments!