Letter From a First-Time Walker

Mother of two and Placerville, CA resident Heidi S. has raised money and participated in many breast cancer events since her breast cancer diagnosis 20 years ago. Now, she’s excited to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and become a part of the wonderful community that is the Pink Bubble. We asked Heidi to tell her story as she embarks on her journey for the 2022 San Diego 3-Day. 

Hello 3-Day Family,  

It has always been about HOPE. Twenty years of hope, in fact. I am so honored and excited to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day ® for the first time!  

This year, November 2022, marks an incredible milestone for me. I will be celebrating 20 years as a breast cancer survivor! I am choosing to participate in the Komen 3-Day to not only celebrate all the memories I have been blessed to make, but to offer hope to those who are currently fighting this disease.  

My story is typical of many other women who share this sisterhood. In 2002, at age 36, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was married not yet 10 years, with two little boys aged 5 and 2, and our world was rocked to the core. Surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and reconstruction became our lives for several years. My only hope was to create as many family memories as I could and live to see my boys grow up. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to report that those little boys are now 25 and 22.   

Over the years, with my husband and boys in tow, I have raised money for several organizations to support the cause, help find the cures, and give back for all the support that was shown to us in our time of need. My best friend and I have walked in other events in several cities over the years, raising funds, and participating for those who cannot. Offering hope through service and shared vision is life changing. There is real strength in numbers! I am beyond excited to experience this with the 3-Day®!  

I have found that raising money for the 3-Day has been pretty easy with the tools we are given. I posted my link on my Facebook page and within a few days had raised $1,700! Reposting this week has bumped me to almost the full $2,300. With several months until the walk, I am certain I will meet and exceed my goal! 

I am looking forward to the Pink Bubble experience for so many reasons. Hearing stories of hope, determination and resilience is always a reminder of why we all do what we do. The energy of the crowd coming together for a common goal, that feeling of accomplishment for walking farther than I ever thought I could walk and sleeping in a pink tent are all things I am so excited for. There is such beauty in shared experience.  

So, from this newbie to the 3-Day family, thank you for welcoming me, encouraging me, and helping me celebrate…life.  

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”—Christopher Reeve 

Heidi S.  

Team 20 Years of Hope 

Would you like to join Heidi and thousands of other dedicated men and women who, each year, pour their hearts and souls into taking on an incredible challenge: a 3-day, 60-mile journey? Learn more here.  

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.