3-Day Superheroes Part 2

Continuing on with our 3-Day Superheroes series, we wanted to recognize those in the Pink Bubble who continue to show their outstanding commitment, support and care as part of each 3-Day they participate in. We asked our 3-Day coaches and staff to highlight someone, whether walker or crew, who goes above and beyond the call to action. That is what being a 3-Day superhero is all about. 

Superhero Anne: 

Anne is one of those quietly powerful Superheroes who will go above and beyond to help any participant, and always approaches people with love and grace (and the world’s best hugs). She is always willing to jump in with the speed of light and come to the rescue of anyone in need. She’s the kind of dependable, rock steady, strong survivor that makes being her coach so wonderful. 

What inspires you to go above and beyond for this cause? 

I have made many wonderful friends through the 3-Day and have joyfully celebrated the survivors. Sadly, though, when one lives immersed in a breast cancer world, sometimes friends are lost to the disease; I’ve lost count of the 3-Day friends gone too soon. It is never easy to lose a friend, therefore I keep walking and raising funds in an effort to bring breast cancer to its knees. Outside of the 3-Day, I have come to know many people affected by breast cancer. Both my mother-in-law and my dear friend Katie, who did more than any doctor to get me through my own breast cancer journey, died in 2015. While my mother-in-law led a full life, Katie was fairly young and left behind four children who needed a mom — this fact is unacceptable to me and fueled my passion even further. Last month my friend Claire, one of the very best people I’ve ever known, succumbed to breast cancer. My anger at the audacity of this disease to claim such extraordinary people will propel my aging body forward to do everything I possibly can to end this disease. As long as I have an ounce of energy left in me, I will raise my voice to fight and fundraise and walk to give everyone the full lifetime they deserve! 

Superhero Sheryl: 

As someone who walks, serves on our Medical crew team, co-captains a Lifetime Commitment Club team and is a very generous donor, we wanted to highlight the unique role Sheryl plays as part of our 3-Day family. 

What is your connection to breast cancer? 
I have to answer with a bit of a story because I connect in so many ways. I completed my Family Practice medical residency and moved to Dallas in 1992. I was a young doctor with boundless energy and entered into a random 5K run to get some exercise and to get a free t-shirt. That 5K was the Dallas Race for the Cure, and I was impressed with the incredible organizational skills of the race and marveled at the fact that it was an event put together by women for women. Medicine then was still predominately a man’s profession, and I was quite intrigued with this classy, efficient, smart, strong, confident women’s organization in healthcare. At that time, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer was only 75% and the five-year disease-free statistics were even worse. Breast cancer threatened the life of every woman I diagnosed with it, and I counseled each one to update her will before starting treatment. That 5K culminated in a survivor’s march of women walking arm-in-arm *celebrating* their successive years of life since being treated for breast cancer. Their triumph, resolve, and joy permeated me…body, mind, and spirit…and I stood there with tears streaming down my face. I heard Nancy Brinker assert that the mission of Susan G. Komen was to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease in our lifetime. I’m not sure I truly believed it could be accomplished, but I knew I wanted to ride that wave of vision and determination! 
 
So it was a free t-shirt and a great business model that got me interested in breast cancer initially. I had lost my own mother to colon cancer when she was 47 years old and I was 21. I quietly and discreetly gravitated toward older women who could mentor me personally and professionally. Two race chairs, Sue Ann and Ellen, helped introduce me to Komen. I learned how to conduct a business meeting, I learned how to be assertive, I learned how to manage business finances, and I learned a lot about breast cancer and about its impact on the women’s and men’s lives it affects. I learned that some parts of the organization need to be operated like a battleship ready for combat, yet other aspects need to be operated like a cruise ship setting sail for vacation. None of those things had been taught in medical school. It made me a better doctor, a better businesswoman and a better person. 
 
I do have a family history of breast cancer. When I was young, my Aunt Evelyn let my twin sister and I throw her breast prosthesis like a bean bag toy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties, had a radical mastectomy, but passed away in her eighties of other causes. My Aunt Gin was diagnosed in 1990 and was a proud 27-year survivor when she passed away at age 90, also of other causes. I have had countless patients and friends affected by breast cancer, each of whom has touched me in a special way. Now I am captain of a 3-Day team called STEPS (Screening, Treatment, and Education Programs). I have walked and/or been medical crew for 28 3-Day events. I am a staunch advocate for those affected by breast cancer and have donated to Susan G. Komen for 30 years. I don’t always agree with Komen Headquarters about some of their policies, but my support of the science and life-saving research has not wavered. Sometimes I get lazy, arrogant, or complacent about my commitment. Then I turn to my team and other Pink Bubble family and I am inspired. I see my teammates train through blisters, heat, and with burdened hearts from being in treatment or loved ones being in treatment. At the end of the 3-Day 60-mile walk they give you a free t-shirt. So I guess that’s my connection to breast cancer… the free t-shirts.

As the saying goes, “not all superheroes wear capes.” Some wear pink. Thank you to all of you who show insurmountable support and commitment to finding the cures to breast cancer!  

Robyn B.’s 3-Day Journey

1 in 8 women in the US are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and it hits even closer to home when your friends, family or members of your community are diagnosed with breast cancer. Black women in the U.S. are about 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Susan G. Komen® is focused on reducing those inequities. Susan G. Komen is focused on achieving health equity in the black community. Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their health care provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment. 

What is your connection to breast cancer?  

I have several friends who either had breast cancer or passed away from breast cancer. I also have a friend who worked on breast cancer research at Morehouse College; ironically, as she began this work, her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was over 40 years ago, and she is still here with us today. 

Why are you choosing to participate in the 3-Day?  

I believe that too many women, especially African American women, are not diagnosed early enough or have enough information about breast cancer. Regular screening tests (along with follow-up tests and treatment, if diagnosed) reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer. 

I heard you raised $3,000 in only a week! How did you manage to do this? 

I am surprised but it really did not take long. I requested permission from a friend’s husband (she passed away in 2019) to walk in her honor. Her daughter wrote a passionate blurb about what kind of person her mom was, and I included this statement in my pleas for donations. I sent emails to EVERYONE that I had an email address for and I sent follow-up text messages to assure that they looked for an email from me about the 3-Day. I also emphasized that I am trying to complete my fundraising as soon as possible so I can concentrate on the training. I encouraged them to donate while it was on their mind because this may not be on their priority list, and they may forget. Maybe it’s the phase of life we are in (retirement), but it was FAR easier to get people to respond and send in a donation. Also, many people that I know have been touched in some way by breast cancer ― either in their family or among their friends and neighbors. I pointed out how their donation will be used and that it is tax deductible. 

What are you most looking forward to about the 3-Day?  

I’m looking forward to walking with survivors and other participants. The common goals and camaraderie that we experience are great motivators. I am also looking forward to the fitness benefits for me and experiencing the beauty of San Diego. 

Do you have a favorite moment from the 3-Day that you’ll always remember?  

The excitement and constant smiles that are shown by the crew members, the survivors, other walkers, and the observers along the sidelines are moments I will always remember.   

What was your experience like the first time you participated in the 3-Day? How did your experience change when you came back to walk it again?  

The first time I did the 3-Day, the hardest part was raising funds and meeting the minimum requirement to participate. Maybe it was the phase of life me and my donors were in, (still raising children, making mortgage payments, etc.) but it was much easier this time. I raised the minimum amount in record time. Also, the walk was different between the first time I walked in Atlanta and the second time I walked in San Diego because San Diego has a lot more hills than Atlanta, and thus, much harder. For some odd reason, I did not expect that. 

Are you a part of a team or do you walk solo?  

I walk solo. I do live in Georgia, not California, so I have no one to walk with. I did recently go to the Spring Into the 3-Day event in Atlanta though, and I met many other walkers from Georgia who will be walking in San Diego, so I hope to stay in touch with them and meet up with them in San Diego! 

What advice are you seeking from veteran walkers? 

I’d love advice on other fundraising ideas! I am also seeking encouragement to walk again.   

Do you have any words of encouragement or great fundraising tactics you’d like to share with Robyn? Leave a comment below! And don’t forget to register for a 2022 3-Day at The3Day.org. 

Deana K.’s Commitment to the 3-Day 

We all commit to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day ® for a reason. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer, and Deana’s story is no different. She signed up to walk the 3-Day in 2015, after her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Fast forward to 2019, and Deana was eight months pregnant, but that didn’t stop her from walking the 3-Day in Dallas/Fort Worth. Read on to learn more about Deana’s commitment to the cause and what her unique experience has been like. 

How did you get involved with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day ®? 

I got involved with the 3-Day the year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She opted for a double mastectomy because cancer runs in her family. I was her support person for the first three weeks following surgery. I saw the pain, the struggle, the fear and wanted to do something to honor her fight. I knew the 3-Day would be tough, but I knew that if she could get up every day and fight breast cancer, I could walk 60 miles.   

How many 3-Days have you participated in and how many/what cities are you signed up for in 2022? 

The 2022 season will be my eighth year participating (I still walked in 2020, despite the event being canceled because of COVID). I’m currently signed up to walk in all four cities for 2022, but will definitely be walking in Dallas/Fort Worth, since that is my home. 

What motivated you to walk while pregnant, and what was that experience like? 

In 2019, I was eight months pregnant during the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. So many people thought I was crazy to walk while I was pregnant. But I knew that I needed to walk for my baby’s future, my future and my mom’s future. It was an amazing experience! I had approval from my OB to walk short distances and then could sweep as I needed to. The sweep vans were a hoot! They were all on the lookout for me, as well as all the walker stalkers, especially the Team Steps stalkers. I was not in any big rush, so I spent extra time at pit stops and lunch to chat with other walkers. Many said that I motivated them to keep going. For the 2021 season I was also pregnant again, but was too close to my due date to walk and had concerns from my OB, so I cheered the team on from my car. 

How is the walking experience different while pregnant? 

The experience while pregnant was definitely different from my other walks. I trained equally for pregnant and non-pregnant walks, but completely knew that doing the whole 60 miles on foot would not be best that far into my pregnancy. We definitely didn’t need a baby born on the route — although Medical would have had members on hand with experience! I camped out during non-pregnant walks, but definitely couldn’t do that while pregnant. I usually don’t sweep all three days, and just power through with teammates. I loved being able to walk leisurely and sweep while pregnant — it was nice to talk to so many walkers. Finding out why they were walking motivated me to keep going. After one meal in the tent, we had donut holes left over. So I started making little sleeves of donut holes to have in my bag while out on the route. I never knew how much a small pack of donut holes could light up faces of fellow walkers, but it did, especially on Day 3!   

If there are other pregnant women out there considering walking, what words of encouragement or advice would you give them? 

If anyone is pregnant and wanting to participate in the 3-Day, talk to your doctor of course, but if they’ say it’s ok — go for it! If you are on a team, let your teammates know and be sure to seek out the sweep vans, just in case! Take your time and watch your feet; the cracks on the sidewalks would most definitely send you to medical if you tripped. If I came up on a section with limited sweep access or no sweep access, I used caution and listened to my body before proceeding. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, more so than a normal walking hydration routine. Most importantly, enjoy the Pink Bubble and all aspects of it! Embrace the journey, whether on foot or wheels. 

How did you come up with the idea to print phrases of the 3-Day promise on maternity shirts? 

I’ve always teared up during the 3-Day promise, especially “We lay down or footsteps for this generation and the next.” When I became pregnant, I knew I would be walking or riding in the sweep vans and needed something comfy to wear, while also supporting the Pink Bubble. One of my team members created the design and put it on a shirt for me. It was very symbolic for me, as the words went across my tummy, where the next generation was growing (my Baby Roo as everyone referred to the baby — we didn’t find out the gender until the baby was born— a little boy. My little Roo). 

We all have unique stories and reasons why we join the Pink Bubble and commit to the cause. Why do you walk? Let us know in the comments.