Meet Lisa Partner, 3-Day Walker- and Breast Cancer Survivor

June is National Cancer Survivor Month, and is an excellent reminder of the strength, power and optimism we see from survivors on the 3-Day, and in all our own lives.

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We’d like to introduce you to Lisa Partner, a 3-Dayer and training walk leader from the Powered by Optimism team in San Diego. Lisa is a 12-year metastatic breast cancer survivor who has raised more than $23,000 for the 3-Day since her first walk in 2007.

 

Lisa found a lump in her breast when her daughter was only three months old, and after many doctors’ visits, tests and more, was finally diagnosed in early 2005. Her daughter was only 18 months old. From her initial discovery to her diagnosis, she admits that “cancer never really was in my thought process,” but it soon became a part of her everyday life.

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A few months after her first surgery, Lisa explains “It was found that my cancer had spread to a single rib on the right side of my body. I was then restaged as metastatic. Due to restaging I will be on Herceptin indefinitely. After pondering my thoughts for a few months, I decided to have my right breast and ovaries removed.”

That initial reconstruction did not go smoothly, but Lisa has since seen more success with following reconstruction surgeries. Through it all, she has remained strong for herself and her family. Marianne Masterson, San Diego 3-Day coach, has sung Lisa’s praises for that immeasurable strength.

“Not only has Lisa confronted the trials associated with surgery and treatment, but also the stark odds that her daughter may be growing up without a mother. Lisa’s attitude was to do everything possible to stay alive to ensure this didn’t happen.”

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When she was able, Lisa joined the 3-Day in 2007, and since then has become an active participant, partaking in the Survivor Circle in 2010 and 2015, which she said was a “highly emotional” Experience. When talking about how being a survivor has affected her 3-Day experience, she explained,

“This is going to sound silly, but the walkers make me feel like a rock star. Funny, right?  Survivors are looked at as heroes, even though I don’t feel like one.  […]  Just the fact that so many people join together for a single cause is astounding.”

That feeling of community includes walker stalkers and other San Diego locals, who Lisa says are some of her favorite parts of the walk each year.

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“It is unique in that there are so many people coming together for a singular cause. And our community support here in San Diego is bar none!  We have the best city!”

Marianne summed it up best when she said, “Lisa is as dedicated to the cause as she is dedicated to living. She fully embraces living in the present and to me embodies everything the 3-Day represents!”

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If you want to make a difference for a breast cancer survivor, or help someone battling breast cancer in your own life, Lisa says it’s very simple; just be present.

“Be available to listen, offer a positive attitude, and offer to do grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking meals.  Anything so that the person can focus on getting well.”

That is something Lisa focuses on every day. We are honored to have her in our 3-Day family during Cancer Survivor Month, and always.

 

 

Meet Gwynne M., 3-Dayer and Recruiter Extraordinaire

All it takes is a little spark of inspiration to start a whole movement. If you need proof of that statement, Gwynne is the perfect example. This year will be only her second one walking in the 3-Day, and she has already single handedly recruited 25 people to her team, Gwynne’s Friends. She’s also already surpassed her fundraising minimum. And she still has more than six months until she walks the San Diego 3-Day. Imagine where she’ll be by November!

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Gwynne first became introduced to Susan G. Komen’s efforts in 2012 when her friends participated in the Race for the Cure in her honor. That same year, she had a bilateral mastectomy, finished up chemo and underwent radiation all due to a Triple Negative breast cancer diagnosis.

Four years later, in 2016, Gwynne decided to get more personally involved and signed up for the Philadelphia 3-Day. Gwynne’s Friends came back to life as a team! Shortly after signing up, however, Gwynne learned that her cancer was back, and was metastatic, Stage IV breast cancer.

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“I started treatment and my training all in the same month. We had a total of six people on our team and after completing the 24-week training program, we walked.”

With her friends by her side, Gwynne took on the 3-Day.

“I couldn’t believe the number of people that were there cheering us on. I had a catheter hanging out the side of my chest and my feet were peeling from the chemo but I managed to walk about 55 of the 60 miles. It was amazing. There was such excitement and spirit between the walkers, crew and community that you hardly realized you were walking all day.”

Gwynne

She says that training was a huge credit to her success last year, especially her long weekend training walks.

“It is so much easier when you have someone to walk with. One weekend my nephews were visiting and we had them rotate and walk a mile with us and then switch. They loved it! Many of my friends would join me to walk while I was training.”

Just getting the word out made a huge difference., Gwynne said that once people knew she was walking the 3-Day, she was amazed at the amount of support, training companions and donations she received. It also made a huge difference in her personal motivation.

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“When you’re undergoing chemotherapy and the doctors are telling you that you’re terminal, having a goal to walk in a 3-Day has such a positive impact on you emotionally and physically.”

That motivation led her to sign up for the 3-Day again in 2017.

“I decided to sign up for the San Diego 3-Day. Sun, sand and the ocean. What more could you want when walking? I put the word out to my team members, and a couple of them decided to join, along with my husband.”

She utilized the “Bring Your Bestie” Promotion to gather friends from out of town as well! Though she had previously walked in Philadelphia, she used social media to encourage friends to make the trip West with her.

 

“I created a video that started with a little chat about me and some photos from our 3-Day walk in Philadelphia the year before. In the video, I invited anyone who wanted to join us in San Diego. and if they couldn’t join us I asked for them to donate. Then I posted it on Facebook. I was so humbled by the outcome. I raised all my donations in one week and we now have 25 team members!”

Soon friends, cousins, sisters and sister in laws joined. And then their friends joined along with them.

“That’s what friends do,” Gwynne said simply. “They support each other. The 3-Day is family, friends, community, volunteers and LOVE!”

Walk on, Gwynne.

 

Meet Jen B., a Preventative Mastectomy 3-Day Walker

Jen Besserman first learned about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day via her boyfriend’s mother, Karen. Karen has walked in 24 different 3-Day events for the past 15 years, but Jen’s connection to the fight to end breast cancer goes deeper. “My grandmother is a breast and ovarian cancer survivor, and she just turned 88. A few years ago, my mom found out she and my grandmother were BRCA1+, and last year I found out that I too share the gene,” said Jen.

Jen wasn’t surprised, as she had a feeling she might have it. “Right when I found out, I called my mom and dad and they were more upset than I was. I told them everything would be fine. I didn’t really think too much about it until I met with my genetic counselor and learned more about the gene.” After meeting with her genetic counselor, Jen did the difficult task of putting her emotions aside, and looked at the facts presented to her by her doctors. “The fact was that I had an 86% chance of getting breast cancer and if I chose to have preventative surgery, that risk would go down to under 5%. Those numbers alone sold me on the surgery…and I met incredible surgeons so it was a win-win for me. It also helped that I lived close to the mecca of plastic surgery, Beverly Hills. This made my decision easier as well,” she said.

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Jen’s mom Susan knew about her BRCA gene mutation for nine years, but hadn’t thought about a double mastectomy before. While she had opted to have an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), Jen said once she had made up her mind about her surgery, she called her mom and said, “Why haven’t you done this? It lowers our risk 95%. It’s a no brainer!”

Once Jen’s mom knew more about the surgery, she realized it made sense for her, too – so she opted to move forward, and chose to do it before Jen so that she could tell Jen what to expect. Susan is a professional baker and candy maker for her company “Susie’s Sweet Shoppe” in New York, and according to her daughter, has the “most positive attitude – all the time.” While there were no decisions made lightly about both Jen and Susie’s treatments, they found the process brought them together. “We are close and I feel that this surgery brought us even closer, not just because she flew in from New York and stayed with me in Santa Monica for four weeks to take care of me, but because we now have this bond.”

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Susan will be flying from New York to walk the San Diego 3-Day with Jen. Jen is a graphic designer at an advertising agency in Santa Monica, and her hobbies are painting, riding her bike along the beach path, anything related to music, and being surrounded by friends and family. Her fundraising efforts have been successful so far, and Jen is at 87% of the way to her goal. “On my one- year anniversary of my preventative double mastectomy in February, I shared a post on social media and let my friends and family know that I will be participating in the walk in November. Everyone has been very generous.”

What made Jen want to walk, besides her own personal connection to the cause? “Well, I like to try anything once. You never know if you will like or dislike something until you try it! I had the pleasure of witnessing the Closing Ceremony this year and the speeches almost brought me to tears and motivated me to participate next year. Plus half of the walk is by the beach, so the beautiful view will hopefully distract you from your sore muscles,” she laughs.

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“When I showed up to the 3-Day a few months ago, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved. The energy and camaraderie that I walked into was incredible. I can’t wait to officially walk in November.” And we can’t wait to have you and your mother join us, Jen; and we’re grateful to you and others like you for so bravely sharing your story, and being a part of the fight.

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