60 Miles, a 60th Birthday, and Ending a 20-Year Hiatus: The Story of Rebecca W.

Rebecca and her best friend Elayne walked their first Breast Cancer 3-Day in 2000, one year before Elayne received her breast cancer diagnosis. Twenty years later, Rebecca is celebrating her 60th birthday by walking 60 miles in honor of Elayne’s life. She shares with us Elayne’s story and what she has taken away since her friend’s passing.  

How did you first become involved in the 3-Day? 

Twenty-one years ago, my dear friend Elayne and I decided to walk 60 miles over three days and raise money for research to cure breast cancer. That was our first year as part of the 3-Day family. We were training partners, tentmates, and each other’s cheerleader as we prepared and walked in Washington, D.C. on a sweltering 108-degree day in May of 2000. Elayne was amazing — crossing that finish line looking like she could do another 60 miles while I really struggled with the heat. Elayne inspired me, and I crossed the finish line with her.   

Why are you walking this year? 

I was trying to decide how I’d like to celebrate my 60th birthday this November 21st. the idea of walking with my husband by my side and my adult children there to celebrate with us, crossing the finish line after walking 60 miles on my 60th birthday in San Diego (where I was born) definitely spoke to me. I expect I will feel Elayne’s support the entire way! I’ve walked only once before, and I’m excited to walk again this year and as many years in the future as I can. 

Can you share Elayne’s story with us? 

It was within just one short year of walking with Elayne in the Breast Cancer 3-Day that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent the next twenty years bravely fighting and winning round after round, all the while earning another master’s degree. She was so passionately dedicated to her new career in nursing and public health. Cancer did not define her, but her positive attitude and living life to the fullest did. Sadly, Elayne passed away earlier this year in May. Her family and so many friends joined to celebrate her life, and now I am coming full circle to honor her memory and raise money to support this most important cause of ending breast cancer. 

How do you honor Elayne during the 3-Day? 

Walking was significant in Elayne’s life! A five-mile loop around a lake near her house was where many friendships were nurtured and how lasting connections were made between Elayne and her family and closest friends. Simply walking honors my friendship with Elayne. Doing my part to raise money for research to cure cancer is how I honor her incredible life.  

If you could share a message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be? 

Live every day to the fullest;, that’s what Elayne did. Be grateful for every single day, for it is a gift. 

The significance of walking 60 miles for her 60th birthday is a special way to honor Elayne and live each day to the fullest. We will be celebrating Rebecca and all of those we walk for at the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day! 

The 3-Day is more than just a walk for Marilyn, it’s a profound way for her to be of SERVICE

Continuing our “Word of the Year” series, this month Marilyn shares her story, and how the 3-Day represents a form of SERVICE to her. Marilyn’s taking her commitment to service seriously, participating in 24 3-Day events over the years, and joining us for the 3-Day this year.

Tell me about your 3-Day experience.

I started my journey in 2011 in Philadelphia knowing almost nothing about Susan G. Komen’s mission. I was simply walking 60 miles because a girlfriend asked me to walk with her. I was hooked after that first walk! Then I went on to walk in Tampa Bay with my daughter-in-law and then again and again and again…all across the country, doing numerous walks each year (in 2017, I did all 7!). I have now completed 24 3-Days. I am signed up to walk and am fully-funded for the 2021 3-Day in San Diego.

What is your 2021 word of the year?

My word for 2021 is SERVICE.

Why is that your word of the year?

I have learned over the years that my soul sings happiness when I am doing things to be of service to others. I know that when I am helping others, love and kindness spreads exponentially. For instance, I am part of a group that provides Christmas bags for 200 less fortunate women in our area each year. Naturally, it helps the women for whom we get to do this service; it also helps each of us remember how blessed we are and that we are able to joyously share our bounties. And it also is a wonderful connecting project for the women around the country who send a bounty of love and products to help fill the bags. The friends I’ve met through Komen and the 3-Day are unbelievably generous.

Also, by being a mentor to other women in the addiction community, I have the ability to see women grow and flourish and then watch them mentor others. We all give and receive constantly.

Why do you participate in the 3-Day?

I participate in the 3-Day because, as a breast cancer survivor (along with surviving facial melanoma and uterine cancer), I must give back to the community of those ahead of me who made the research possible for new and improved methods of treating this disease that saved my life and millions of others. I must be part of an organization that continues to fund researchers to find the cure, and that helps in communities across the country with the everyday struggle for people finding their way after they have heard those crushing words “You have cancer.”

What does the 3-Day family mean to you?

The women and men I have met along the way over these past 11 years have become my second heartbeat. I have never ever collectively met such a caring, loving, hilarious, energetic, service-oriented, superior group of people! My Komen friends motivate me to do more and do better. 

How does your word of the year connect to the 3-Day?

It is a blessing and an honor to do the service work of raising money for Susan G. Komen. To know that we are doing so much for so many people is awe-inspiring. To know that my grandchildren’s children may hear that their great-grandmother had breast cancer and ask, “what’s that?” is enough to keep me going long into my next decade.

By my walking these walks and walking all the training walks I do (I walked 2,020 miles in 2020 and I will do another 2,021 in 2021), more women have joined me on the 3-Day and they get to be of service. It just keeps getting better. I will admit that my age inspires younger people to get involved as they say, “Well, if she can do it, I can do it!”

If you could share a message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?

Be kind. Be loving. Be of service. The world will become a better place and you will be part of the solution.

We want to know: How are you of SERVICE in your community? Check back next month for the next blog post in our “Word of the Year” series.

Lori M.’s 3-Day Story and Connection

Lori M. is no stranger to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. She has completed three 3-Day events, and is currently training for her fourth. This one is different though, as she comes back to the cause after an 11-year break. What happened during those 11 years, and why walk again now? Read on to find out more about Lori M.’s incredible story.

I have done the 3-Day three other times, all in Chicago. The first two times were done with my mom. Our first and second time was in honor of my mom’s husband’s first wife and daughter who both battled breast cancer and lost the fight. In 2010 I walked with three other ladies; our team was “cops for a cure.” I have been a 911 dispatcher for 16 years for my county, and at that time, one of our own was battling breast cancer: Flora #139 from the Portage Police Department. Flora is currently 11.5 years cancer free. She is still a police officer and continues to “fight like a girl.” In 11 years, two childhood friends of mine, one who is a single mom and one who is a very young friend, who both mean the world to me, are currently going for radiation once a week.

In August 2018, my husband, Mark (but everyone calls him Randy), was diagnosed with leukemia. He was the love of my life, childhood sweetheart and best friend. We started living a little more after that, we always loved going and doing things, never sat still, and enjoyed our vacations. We started taking more pictures and going more places. The only times we weren’t together was when we were each at work. We have three beautiful sons and daughters who have given us three grandchildren: two boys and a princess.

Our world took a gut punch again on December 31, 2020 when Mark was admitted to the hospital with Covid. He lost his battle on February 13, 2021 after fighting for six weeks in the hospital. I, along with my children, mother in-law, and a few family members, were fortunate in being able to be with him when he passed. We will be welcoming our fourth grandbaby in December (a baby girl). She’ll be named after her papa in heaven; Randi will be her name.

To say my days have been difficult is an understatement. In addition to taking care of my mom, my days are full of work, kids, and life. I am busy, consumed with trying to just go through life day by day. I didn’t find time to mourn, miss him, to have alone time to just focus on myself. I just kept thinking I need to get away, to think. I tried a vacation with some friends…that didn’t work. I then started seeing more ads for the 3-Day. I got to thinking about it, ignoring it, seeing more ads, ignoring them. Then I pulled up the Susan G. Komen Facebook page and tried ignoring it again.

I finally pulled up the page, looked at it, prayed and thought, “ok, maybe.” Then things started falling into place. I looked at my work calendar because I thought “oh, I’m probably working” (good excuse to say no). Nope, I am off work that weekend. I did a lot of praying, talking to myself, maybe trying to talk myself out of it. I registered and committed to raising the money and walking 60 miles again while not being in shape, 11 years older, and an emotional wreck.

I made contact with Coach Tisho; I had a few questions for her. I think I was hoping she would tell me something I didn’t like to give me an excuse to back out. I didn’t tell anyone that I had signed up, I kept it to myself. I did a lot of praying, planning, searching myself. I knew from previous walks I would have time to myself since I wasn’t walking with anyone this time. I could walk, think, talk to God, finally be alone in my thoughts, talk to my husband. I knew there would be no distractions. I knew I’d be surrounded with survivors, strong women and men on a mission. I wanted to watch them and be inspired. I told God, “If you want me to do this, I need to hear from you, loudly…I need to know this is something I’m supposed to do, not me running from life clear across the country.”

August 5, 2021, I walked into church; only the third time in seven months. It has been difficult to go without Mark. I walked in, sat down next to a cousin and they started playing “Nothing Else,” the same song I played daily for six weeks, the same song I played as my husband took his last breath. As our preacher began to speak, he told the story of Peter being commanded by Jesus to get out of the boat and “WALK.” The message I got was loud and clear: GET OUT AND WALK. I went home, posted about my Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day walk, spoke about how this all came about… and the donations started coming in. 

Within five days, I passed the amount needed and have raised my goal to $5,000!!!!  

I’m inspired by women who have battled and survived breast cancer. I’m looking forward to flying across the country, pushing myself, and being surrounded by strong men and women all on the same mission.

Walking 60 miles in three days is hard, but it’s STILL easier than breast cancer.