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.”

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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.

 

A Team of Two: Meet Team Sweet 16

Imagine you’re the mother of a seven-month-old baby. She’s your second child, so you’re familiar with the joy of motherhood—the chubby hands grasping around your pinky, the sweet coos, the late-night awakenings where you’re overcome with exhaustion—but you know that it’s all worth it. You’ve been nursing fine for six months, and then on the seventh month, your daughter suddenly stops nursing out of one breast. You go to the doctor and are told it’s common, just a typical nursing infection like mastitis. You’re given an antibiotic… but it doesn’t get better. You go back in, and by then, the skin on your breast has changed in appearance. You are told you have stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer.

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This is Laurie and Miranda’s story. Laurie is Miranda’s mother, a soft-spoken woman with a bright smile. Laurie has walked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day three times; and while every Komen 3-Day is a special experience, this third time is celebrating her sixteen-year anniversary of survival. “I did a year of chemotherapy and radiation all while she was a baby,” Laurie says, as Miranda stands next to her. “I had a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy… all while she was a baby.”

Miranda wasn’t just in Dallas/Fort Worth cheering her mother on. She was walking for the first time, celebrating her sixteenth birthday with a sixty-mile walk. “My mom is a survivor and I lost my dance teacher to breast cancer. Breast cancer has had a huge impact on my life, and I wanted to do something to help,” she said. “It’s just us two, mom and daughter… and this is why we call this the Sweet 16.”

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Being a teenage walker presents unique challenges. “I’m a junior [in high school], and I have a lot of homework to do and honors classes. It’s tough to be here, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a rewarding experience and one that I wanted to have.”

As a three-time walker, Laurie found that fundraising was much easier than she thought it would be. “People want to support you, because breast cancer impacts everyone. Everybody knows somebody,” she said. Laurie and Miranda sewed ribbons and sold them as donations. Donors were invited to write on the ribbons with the names of people they loved who were affected by breast cancer.

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Laurie and Miranda were tired on day two of their walk, but they felt strong in their conviction to walk. “When you’re with this group of people, you don’t feel the pain. It’s nothing like the fight you go through with breast cancer.”

What’s it like to be a sixteen year survivor, walking sixty miles with your sixteen-year-old daughter? “I had a 10% survival rate. I didn’t think I’d be here. It’s incredible to do this with her – so that hopefully, one day, she won’t have to do this with her daughter.”

 

Getting Swept Away by the 3-Day Crew

Tracy D has been a Seattle 3-Day walker over several years, including last weekend’s 2013 event. But Tracy recalls how 2011 tested her in ways very few of us can imagine. Tracy got the news that every breast cancer survivor fears. “I learned that my cancer had spread. I had to endure surgery and 12 treatments of chemotherapy,” Tracy shared. Her hopes for leading Team Tracy to a record-making year were dashed.

Tracy (right) and Team Tracy member, Sandra share a smile at the end of the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

Tracy (right) and Team Tracy member, Sandra share a smile at the end of the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

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