Focusing on Spreading Positivity with Survivor and 3-Dayer, Elaine

When I walked across the finish line, and my son wrapped me up in a hug and whispered, “I’m so proud of you Mom,” that went straight from my ear to my heart.

If you walked the 3-Day in Seattle or Atlanta this year, you likely saw Elaine. Or heard her! She’s a solo walker known for her constant smile and jingling outfits that signal her presence even before you see her coming.

This year marked her 9th and 10th 3-Days respectively, and her first year really highlighting her survivor story as part of our partnership with Mohawk Flooring. She says that recognition was never really something she looked for, and as a solo walker, not something she always got. She flew under the radar and made her 3-Day connections in the smaller moments. This year changed that for her.

“To have Mark say ‘Hi!’ to me by name in the morning, or to see the photographer on the route, I feel like the arms have truly been opened to me and I have been fully welcomed into the fold. And I have felt that support and recognition so much this year. I’ve been able to share my story and my message this year in a different way, even after doing this for 8 years. The arms have been opened wide. It’s a beautiful thing and a beautiful welcome.”

The 3-Day family first welcomed Elaine eight years ago, when she walked her first 3-Day while in the middle of radiation. She had already signed up for the 3-Day before her diagnosis and had even sent out more than 100 fundraising letters! She knew she knew she had reached her fundraising goals and felt that she could meet her physical goals as well. Her doctor gave her approval to walk and told her to listen to her body. So, she did. And she walked every one of those 60 miles.

Along the way, she had her first welcome from the 3-Day Pink Bubble.

“I met two Crew ladies on my first walk in Seattle. I was nervous about wearing a survivor shirt and they just enveloped me in this hug. And I was bawling, and they just kept telling me that I could do this. And to be held by them, and feel that support, was everything to me.”

She has continued to have similar memories and stories over the last decade, making new friends each year and finding new strength with every step.

“Whatever you believe in, it’s a comfort to know that there’s a plan. And it’s tough to think, “How could this be part of a plan?” But meeting those ladies on my first 3-Day, or talking to women in Atlanta this year, it just shows me that these things are meant to be this way.

I’m a pretty positive person, and I try to focus on that positive outcome. So, this has been my way to do my part.”

She also does her part year-round, fundraising all year and encouraging those around her to learn about their breast health.

“I want to shake strangers and remind people to go get their mammograms! Just go do it! Early detection is everything. I talk to everybody, whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month or not.”

She finished her 10th walk during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year, and her son was there to welcome her across the finish line. Though her journey has been long and difficult, she says being a survivor has helped her find more compassion for herself daily, and that the 3-Day has shown her the worth that she brings to the world time and time again.

“It is so much more filled with compassion for me, and for anyone else who has this diagnosis. I can be so much nicer to myself, and the 3-Day helped me with that.

The universe draws us to where we need to be. The universe drew me here to the 3-Day.”

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Every Step is a Journey

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Welcome to the Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day! If you’re not sure what you’re in for, let us tell you!

If you haven’t read our earlier installments, you can check them out here:

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No one is better qualified to add to our Insider’s Guide than 3-Day Coach Gina, who has walked the Michigan 3-Day, and now leads both the Michigan and Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day as our Crew & Volunteer Coordinator. Gina is also a breast cancer survivor, and deep supporter of every member of our 3-Day family, from walkers to crew to Youth Corps and beyond. She is sharing her personal memories and 3-Day journey with us, in the hopes that her story might inspire others to join our family.

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Getting Ready: 3-Day Fundraising

  • Ask everyone…and then ask again! Never doubt how much family and friends want to support you on your 3-Day journey. For participants, “the ask” isn’t easy, but you are asking for a cause you believe in, so allow donors to see your passion and how much you are willing to do in this fight.
  • Whether or not a person donates, ask them to forward your email onto their family and friends…And watch your donor circle grow. Always remember that follow-up is key!
  • Utilize social media and have fun with it. Try a Ten Dollar, or Twenty Dollar Tuesday, “I am walking for…” Wednesday, High Five Dollar Friday…the possibilities are endless. Create that sense of urgency and enjoy the process of connecting with folks while watching your fundraising grow.
  • Double (even triple) your fundraising dollars with a matching gift. Check out our matching gift page at The3Day.org/Matching for detailed instructions. Simply ask every donor, “Does your company participate in a matching gift program?” That $25 donation might become a $50 donation!

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Getting Ready: 3-Day Training

  • Follow the suggested training program and make it your own. Given everyone’s busy schedules, it might seem daunting when you look at the entire 24-week or 16-week training schedule. Take it week by week and get the miles in when you can.
  • A lunchtime or evening walk (once it’s not so hot!) is always good. You’ll probably find that the weekends will be when you train the most, but this will differ from person to person. For me, it was important that I saw my mileage increase each week, not necessarily my number of training walks.
  • Look for official training walks being led in your area at org/TrainingWalks. These are led by 3-Day training walk leaders and are an excellent way to train, meet fellow walkers and have some good ‘ole 3-Day fun!

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And then it begins…Friday morning on the 3-Day

You cannot deny the buzz in the air the morning of the Opening Ceremony. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation, lots of moving pieces…And lots of PINK! Get your tissues ready (or at least I did!) once the Opening Ceremony begins, because it’s an experience like no other. An experience that sets the stage for your three days ahead.

Taking on 60 miles!

To say you are fully supported on the 3-Day route is an understatement.

From the pit stops, where you refuel and rehydrate to the Porta-Potties, where you…well, you know! The cheering stations where families, the community and strangers who are now friends come out to cheer on walkers and sprinkle encouragement through their words and signs.

I must give a shout out to our all-volunteer and all-around amazing Crew. Crew members commit to all three days like the walkers and experience a different kind of 3-Day. You will find Crew around every turn, and at camp, making sure walkers are fully supported. At pit stops, the lunch stop, and patrolling the route on motorcycles and bicycles. Crew sets up camp, hauls participants’ gear. Medical Crew makes sure participants are happy and healthy all weekend.

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One of the high points for me personally is seeing the Youth Corps, our friends in yellow. These are youth who commit to serving the walkers throughout the weekend. To see these kids and teens giving their time and energy to the fight against breast cancer really speaks to our future.

If I can sum up my experience it’s that I remember, at times, thinking, “I cannot walk another step.” Then I would look around, see my fellow walkers, and the support, and I would realize that walking is the easy part and we keep going because hearing the words, “you have breast cancer” will forever change a person’s life.

Camp: A More Than Pink Sleepover!

Camp is otherwise known as the fabulous “pink bubble.” Coming from a non-camper, this is not the camping I would normally think of. The word “glamping” is much more like it, and even then, I am always amazed the detail that goes into making sure 3-Day participants are made to feel welcome and comfortable all weekend.

Your pink tent will be your home away from home, and you’ll eat a yummy breakfast and dinner in the dining tent. My advice is to immerse yourself in the 3-Day campsite; it’s really part of your experience. Watch the camp show, visit 3-Day Main Street, and shower in the shower trucks. It’s a memorable experience like no other.

Just like on the route, you are fully supported and won’t want to leave this sweet bubble of love and kindness. Alas, Sunday will arrive, you’ll bid farewell to camp, pack up your belongings and be reunited with your gear at the Participant Finish Area.

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Closing Ceremony and the morning after…

For me, the last day of the 3-Day is bittersweet. Walking into the Closing Ceremony is indescribable. Since each participant has their own reason for participating in the 3-Day, each participant might have a different feeling when they take their final steps of the Victory Walk from the Participant Finish Area into the Closing Ceremony.

I always feel the walkers and crew of the 3-Day are part of a special group, bound together by their passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. I will never give up, and you will feel this drive and passion from the moment you register for your 3-Day journey, too!

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Motivation Monday: Get Inspired with Stories from 3-Day Survivors and Those Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

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To start off the week on the right foot, sometimes you need a little motivation. Mondays can be tough, but it’s important to remember the Bold Goal we are all working towards every day. There are no better people to remind us of this fact than our 3-Day family of survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer. We are proud to honor them at every 3-Day, and even more proud to hear why they continue to walk. Read on for their words of inspiration…

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Lisa P. from the San Diego 3-Day

“I walk with pride, humility, sadness for others who have lost the fight.”

Jen C. from Michigan

“I’ve been a 3-Day walker since 2011, but my reasons for walking have changed now that I’m a new survivor. I now walk to honor and give back to the community that has helped me get through my own breast cancer diagnosis. My 3-Day family has been there for me every step of the way, and I’m eternally grateful for the 3-Day bringing them into my life. <3”

Lori W. from Ohio

“I am a two-year survivor. I am walking to have a world without breast cancer. I don’t want my daughter, daughter-in-law, my sister, my mom my granddaughters, my sisters-in-law, nieces, cousins, friends to ever have to go through what I went through.”

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Michigan 3-Day Coach Jennifer

“I walk because, quite simply, I can. I am now 10 years cancer free and alive and healthy enough to walk, so I it’s something I must do.”

Stacey R. from the Twin Cities 3-Day

“I know that I would not still be around without the research support from Komen and other organizations that has given me the treatment options I have now. I want to pay this forward through continuing to raise awareness and funds for Komen and participate in the 3-Day walks.”

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Mandy H. from the Seattle 3-Day

“I am a survivor with three daughters. I walk to bring awareness to this disease, express the importance in finding a cure, and to remind people to be diligent in being checked.”

Liz B. from Philadelphia

“I signed up for my first 3-Day eight years ago when I was recovering from my mastectomies. Walking 60 miles became a personal goal. I continue to walk and crew each year because I’ve found a second family in the 3-Day. I will keep walking or crewing until there is no more need to do so.”

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Do you have your own story as a survivor or someone living with metastatic breast cancer? Share it in the comments!