Through it all, especially in the Medical Tent, Hal G. shows PERSEVERANCE | Word of the Year

Next up in our “Word of the Year” series, meet Hal G. and learn in his own words why he chose perseverance.

I have participated in three events as part of the Medical Crew—Philadelphia in 2018 and 2019 as well as New England in 2019. I am registered to walk for the first time in San Diego 2021.

My experiences at the 3-Day events have been great. I’ve been able to meet so many wonderful people who have come together in support of people they know and don’t know. It’s about making the future brighter for friends and strangers alike…incredible people filled with hope finding a common mission of advancing breast cancer diagnosis, research, and treatment.

As part of the Medical Crew, I feel honored to be part of the 3-Day. My colleagues and I are dedicated to helping the participants finish what they started. I am at the event to help each individual achieve their own goal.

The days start early and end late as we have clinic before the route is open and afterwards into the evening. We provide medical care along the route with a team of incredible medical professionals and assistants. It is truly a well-coordinated team effort with each member doing their part to get each and every participant the care they need and to keep them safe.

My word of the year is Perseverance.

Perseverance is my word of the year as 2020 was a year filled with remarkable and unprecedented challenges. 

I participate in the 3-Day because of my girlfriend, Christine. We started dating in July 2014. Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer in December the following year. She and I never really talked about this again but as tears were streaming down her face in shock from her diagnosis she said to me, “This is more than you bargained for. If you want out of the relationship I understand”. I am still here. We are still here.

Christine had surgery and radiation treatment and now has ongoing medical management and surveillance. After recovering from the stress and fatigue of treatment, Christine set her sights on walking the 3-Day. It was a monumental milestone in her emotional and physical recovery.

Christine has now completed three events, two as a walker and one as crew. We will be walking in San Diego together.

In December 2020, Christine became a 5-year survivor.

The 3-Day family to me is a gathering of people coming together to combat a common adversary. It is a group of individuals magnifying their strengths exponentially as they join the Pink Bubble. It is a reminder that nobody has to fight alone…there are friends we know and friends we haven’t met yet that are working together to improve lives today and for future generations.

My word of the year, Perseverance, embodies much of the 3-Day experience. Perseverance is about overcoming an obstacle. It’s defined as weathering a storm or difficult situation in life with strong determination. I have seen and treated many in the Medical tent and base camp who display a singlemindedness toward achievement. Also, perseverance can last for a lifetime.

The message I would like to share with the Pink Bubble is that you matter. You are important. What you do helps others. In this time of extraordinary challenges look for the good. The Pink Bubble is part of the good, and the Pink Bubble is not the same without you.

One thing that surprised me about volunteering for the 3-Day is that in helping others an unexpected side effect was that I helped myself. I didn’t see that coming. 

Thank you, Hal. As we move through 2021, we’re honored by the perseverance we see you and the Pink Bubble family show as we overcome obstacles together.

Other Word of the Year Blog Posts

Tracie G. is ready to INSPIRE everyone around her in 2021 | Word of the Year

Carolyn P.’s Heart is Filled with Generosity in 2021 | Word of the Year

Riley W. Chooses To Walk Into 2021 Being GRATEFUL | Word of the Year

My Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Story

By San Diego 3-Day Walker, Niki W.

I started doing the 3-Day in 2008 because a few of my fellow teacher friends invited me. I thought it was a perfect way to fundraise money towards breast cancer research, as I had lost a couple friends to this horrible disease. I also thought it would be a great way to spend time with these friends and to get exercise. I walked in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019. I plan on walking in 2021 as well.

In the midst of everything else that 2020 brought my way, I found a very large lump in November, in my right breast.

I went in two days later, and my OBGYN said it felt too big to be cancer and not to worry about it. She scheduled some tests anyway for December but told me it was probably nothing. I cancelled my appointments and moved them to January because the December tests conflicted with our holiday plans, and I figured it didn’t matter since my doctor had said not to worry.

I finally went in for the tests on January 18 and had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and blood tests. My mammogram came out normal but they were able to see the lump on the ultrasound and my lymph nodes were very enlarged. They scheduled a biopsy for February 3. On February 5, I was walking with a friend on the beach when my OBGYN doctor called and said that I had an invasive carcinoma tumor 7X6 cm that had already spread to my lymph nodes.

I was in shock for several days and stopped sleeping and didn’t have an appetite. The next two weeks were a blur of appointments, scans, and more, as I found out that I needed to start chemo right away for six months, then surgery (double mastectomy) followed by radiation, reconstruction and hormone therapy for five-ten years.

Once I got my test results back and learned that I was only Stage 3 and the cancer had not yet moved to my organs, I was able to get my hope back! I am now continuously leaning on God each day and knowing that he is here with me through this. 

My hair started falling out in early March.  After I couldn’t take it anymore, four of my 3-Day friends arranged an outdoor haircut in my backyard so that I would have support during this traumatic time. I woke up that morning thinking that this would be the hardest day of my life, and my stomach was in knots all morning. However, when they arrived all wearing cowboy boots and hats and blasting country music (my favorite!), I couldn’t help but smile. Throughout the haircut, I was filled with gratitude for these amazing friends being with me during this really difficult time. They turned my sadness into joy, and it became one of the most special, intimate afternoons of my life.

My friends and family (and particularly my 3-Day team) have been amazing and have been here for every step along the way with cards, gifts, flowers, and meals. They even added my name to our 3-Day team logo so that we will now be walking for me as well as many other teachers from our school who have fought the battle and survived! I can’t wait to walk in November and be at the other side of this battle and able to spread my hope to others. 

My message for others is to not give up hope and to rely on your faith, family, and friends to get you through this. You can’t do it alone and you will need their support! Embrace it and don’t reject it. There will be so many blessings if you allow other people in.

The Sisterhood of Wild Women Walking for a Cure

We’re wild about the spirit and sense of community that our teams bring to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Today, we’re excited to hear from Les C. and some of her teammates on Wild Women Walking for a Cure, one of our wildest teams on the San Diego 3-Day.

Tell us about how your team first became involved in the 3-Day.

Wild Women (and Men and Teens) Walking for A Cure (WWWFAC) is a team that has participated in the 3-Day events since the first walk from Santa Barbara to Malibu in 1998. Three of the current WWWFAC walked in that first event because of their commitment to the cause and to take on the physical challenge. They came away from that experience both addicted and contagious, addicted to the amazing world that can be created in those three days, and so contagious that now we’ve had a collection of over 150 women, men, children (and one service dog) who have been a part of our WWWFAC family over 20+ years.  

What is the history behind your team name?

Les: We adopted the Wild Women name in 2003 after discovering a line of jewelry, named “Wild Women,” that was stick figures with hair that resembled our head gear. We obtained approval from the artist to use her logo on our shirts. We haven’t looked back since. You can look for our distinctive, individually made, homemade pipe cleaner art headgear throughout the walk, or our yellow Wild Women T-shirts on Day 3!

Have your reasons for walking changed over the years?

Rosie: My motivation to walk has evolved over time. I signed on in 2000 in memory of two mothers from my neighborhood whose lives were cut short by breast cancer. I have written notes to them every year in the remembrance tent. Over the years, so many friends and acquaintances have battled breast cancer, a sister has battled breast cancer, and I am now a two-time survivor.

Tell us about the “sisterhood” of Wild Women Walking for a Cure.

Rosie: Unequivocal trust.

MA: Compassion, strength, laughter, love = magic.

Peggy: The WWWFAC team has grown into an amazing team that has bonded for the 3-Day events but for so much more. There are not many topics that remain secret when you share all of those miles together over all of those years. The trust and caring and support for every aspect of our lives is so strong. Even though we don’t see some of our teammates except for the annual event, we are able to pick up as though we had never been apart.

Our dedication to the cause has grown as we have raised a lot of money for Susan G. Komen. We are so proud of the exceedingly valuable advances in breast cancer that have been enabled by that money, particularly because more of our teammates and women close to us have received breast cancer diagnoses since we started walking. We have been able to face those diagnoses with the confidence that we are backed by the efforts and care of a virtual army of support. That makes a world of difference.

Les: WWWFAC walkers and our supporters are a family. We have a core group that walks every year, and our wonderful supporters are with us every step of the way. We also have some walkers and supporters who are able to join every few years, and we bring in newbies. As with everything during a 3-Day, it is emotional. We cry, but we laugh, and we gain memories (and rules J) from every 3-Day. We are always there for each other all through the year.

Maureen: Our Wild Women sisterhood is genuine family. We don’t share the same parents but we are as close as siblings. The love and support for each other is very special. We support each other in good times and in crises. The Wild Women sisterhood has been with me every step of my diagnosis and treatment.

What else would you like to share with the 3-Day family?

Les: WWWFAC team members are predominantly Southern California residents, and have mostly participated in Los Angeles and San Diego 3-Days. However, there are WWWFAC members who travel to SoCal for the events from Northern California, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, New York and Massachusetts, and there are WWWFAC who have walked and crewed in walks across the country. In total, 436 WWWFAC walkers have participated across 40 events.

We look forward to the next 3-Day. Our WWWFAC team will include at least 16 walkers and many alumni walker supporters. WWWFAC walkers have ranged in age from 16 to 77 and vary in experience from newbies on their first walks to veterans with as many as 33 walks under their belts. Seven kick-ass survivors are walking on the 2021 team, three of whom are signed up to walk at least three of the four events.

We currently have two WW in treatment and beating breast cancer as we speak. Our shirts, pins and our hearts bear the names of victims and survivors. To have my two kids join the cause when they turned 16 and are now going on their 12th and 9th walks is wonderful, and to have second generation WW walking every year is inspirational. We all hold a firm belief that we can eliminate breast cancer as a concern for our future generations. WWWFAC will continue to walk as everyone deserves a lifetime.