A Daughter’s Love, A Doctor’s Support: Robin Elm’s 3-Day Story

Robin Eggert Elm has been walking the 3-Day since 2002, first with her mom and sister, and now with an ever-growing team. Since that time, she has lost family members, endured hardship, and found a new home in Greensboro, Georgia. She has also made a new friend in her neighbor, Dr. Radha Vemuri, an oncologist who has support her 3-Day journey and many other breast cancer charities and research projects for years. Recently, Dr. Vemuri was diagnosed with brain cancer, prompting Robin to reach out to share his story…and her own…with the 3-Day community.

She says that Dr. Vemuri, or Radha to her, has been a constant source of support for her and her family over the years.

“He’s supported me in my 3-Day walks and he’s shared his commitment with me. He was originally from Kalamazoo, which is about 40 minutes from my parents. In 2017, my mom went in for a chest x-ray as they thought she had pneumonia. Once they began talking about other cancers, I called Radha immediately.”

Robin and her mother (left)

Robin’s mother passed away from meslotheomia in July of that year, after inspiring “dozens of walkers including my sister and me, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, and friends” to join in the 3-Day with her. Robin still walks in her mother’s memory, and with the support of Dr. Vemuri. She shared the story of that journey with us…

And how has Dr. Vemuri supported you and the 3-Day’s mission?

He continually advocates and supports initiatives for breast cancer education.

He says that as a doctor, ‘It is deeply disturbing to me that, in Greene County, more than half the women in the African-American community who are diagnosed with breast cancer will die from breast cancer. The national average for breast cancer mortality is 1-in-5. Our rate is more than twice the national average. That is unacceptable. Through education, screening and getting more women into the healthcare system, we can do much better.’

Radha was also a godsend to our family throughout my mom’s cancer journey. From the early days before her diagnosis through hospice and death, he selflessly gave his time and supported our family.

Why is it so important that people continue to support the 3-Day?

Simply, because we can. I travel all over the country for business. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t have a breast cancer story. As one of my client’s told me, “I was impressed that you walk, but really didn’t understand it all until my daughter did the walk.” It’s not just writing a donation check. It’s making a commitment. It’s seeing, hearing and experiencing why we need to find a cure.

Tell us some of your fondest 3-Day memories with your family!

The memories are really those of a lifetime. It would be impossible to articulate what our support of Susan G. Komen has meant to our family. We receive so much more than we give. Our entire family, not just the walkers, share their Komen stories. My nieces couldn’t wait until they were old enough to do the walk. When my brother’s triplets were three, they had a lemonade stand “for the cure.” Then, years later when one of their hockey teammate’s mother was diagnosed, they told their story and got everyone to paint pink ribbons on their helmets. My niece started bedazzling bras for all the walkers.  Last year, all the guys also had bedazzled bras. My husband likes telling how his came in handy to hold snacks and a small water bottle. I love our family pictures after closing ceremony with a couple dozen family members in matching shirts who cheered us on.

Some other true highlights were:

  • At the 2014 Twin Cities walk, we walked for a while with a family. The grandmother, who had done many walks, was being pushed in a wheelchair by her 15-year old grandson, Austin. She had walked with her other grandchildren and wanted to live long enough to walk with him. […]  One month to the day later, I lost my own son, also named Austin.
  • In 2015 Atlanta, at lunch on Day 3, my mom started talking to a crew member who had dragonfly earrings as dragonflies are an important symbol to our family, representing the cycle of life and death. My mom told her about the loss of my son. Later at Closing Ceremonies, someone tapped my mom on the shoulder. It was the crew member and her husband. She told my mom that each year she finds ‘her person’ but “I hadn’t found my person on this walk until I met you. I want you to have my earrings.” We still have no idea how she found my mom among that massive crowd! My mom kept the earrings on her nightstand. They remained there until she died. Now, my cousin, a survivor, wears them.
  • Finally, at the San Diego 2017 Opening Ceremonies, we looked up and saw a rainbow and just knew my mom was with us.

As a long-time veteran, what are your top fundraising tips for the 3-Day?

Tell your story. I walk in honor of someone different each year and interview them for my fundraising letter. I try to find honorees who’ve been impacted differently.

One year, I walked for my mom’s friend’s daughter. She was 15 and lost her mom. She told me, “I grew up with breast cancer. I had no one to talk to. No one I knew had a mom with breast cancer.”

Another year, I walked for a local woman I never met. She had contacted a local charity for support.  When I interviewed her, she said, “I never thought this would be me. I work. When I got divorced, I was going through treatment and got dropped from my husband’s insurance. I couldn’t pay my medical expenses and my other bills. I want to fight this, so I can support others.”

In 2018, Robin walked in honor of Dr. Vemuri. She will continue to walk as long as she can, fighting for a cure.

Do you have a 3-Day story like Robin? Do you want to show support for someone who has helped you on your 3-Day journey? Share them with us here!

A Few Favorite Photos from 2018

20 Reasons To Be a 20-Mile Walker

3DAY_2017_MI_MD_0042.jpg

With our final two 3-Days coming up quickly in Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego, the time is NOW to sign up for the 3-Day! If you’re new to our community, can’t walk the whole 60 miles or raise the whole $2300, or just want to dip your toe in the water…you can be a 20-Mile Walker. This one-day option of the 3-Day allows walkers to join us on Sunday and finish out the final 20 miles of the weekend with the rest of the 3-Day community, including our exciting Closing Ceremony.

It requires less training, less fundraising, but all the fun that you would experience on the full 3-Day journey. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still can at The3Day.org/20Mile

And if you need more convincing, here are 20 reasons why you should be a 20-Mile Walker…

3DAY_2017_MI_MD_0266.jpg

  1. It’s a welcome to the 3-Day family: If you haven’t participated in the 3-Day previously, walking a 20-Mile Walker is a great way to get a taste of the community. You will meet breast cancer survivors, those who have lost someone to breast cancer, and many people who have been directly aided by the work that Susan G. Komen does. It will be inspiring to say the least!
  2. It’s only one day: That’s not much of a commitment when you think of all the fun you’ll have and the difference you will make in the fight against breast cancer.
  3. You don’t even have to take the day off: 20-Mile Walkers join the event on Sunday, so even those traveling in from other cities can be back home by Sunday night in most cases. We know not everyone can take a day or two off to join us, so participating as a 20-Mile Walker is a great alternative to that.
  4. It’s a great way to get moving: If hitting the gym is getting boring, or you’re looking for a new way to stay active…walking 20 miles with us is a perfect idea! People of all fitness levels participate!
  5. Do something with your friends: This lower commitment option for participating in the 3-Day is a great way to gather friends or family together for a day of bonding.
  6. No need to camp: If sleeping outside isn’t your style, you don’t have to camp (but you can if you want to!). We have great hotel partners, so you can get a cozy night sleep before you take on those 20 miles.
  7. It’s an excuse to wear a tutu: There will be tutus abound on the 3-Day!
  8. Or really any crazy outfit: We have everything from Santa to unicorns to dinosaurs walking on the 3-Day path!
  9. You get unlimited snack access: If you love string cheese, grapes, PB&J, rice krispie treats and all manner of snacks, there is no better excuse to eat your fill than to walk 20 miles.
  10. New friends will find you: No one is ever alone on the 3-Day so even if you sign up by yourself, you will make tons of new friends as you walk.
  11. And you might just keep them forever: Our 3-Day community stays close all year long via social media, local meet-ups and even snail mail. A friend made on the 3-Day is a friend for life.
  12. People cheer when you cross the street: Between our amazing Crew and local support, you will be supported and cheered on throughout your day-long walk. Many of our 3-Dayers say they even get sad on Monday when they cross the street and don’t hear those cheers.
  13. You will smile every step of the way: Yes, this is a 20-mile journey, but we promise it will be a fun one! 😊
  14. It’s a great way to see a new city: Lots of people travel in to participate in the 3-Day, so even if you don’t have a 3-Day in your hometown, you can still join up.
  15. Or learn more about your hometown: Even if the 3-Day is in your home city, chances are you haven’t seen every inch of the area. Walking the 3-Day will show you areas of your home you might never have seen otherwise! It will also give you an excuse to re-visit some of the famous landmarks around town.
  16. There’s a pink carpet finish line: Who doesn’t love a good glamour walk across a pink carpet?!
  17. And you’ll accomplish something few people do: Who else do you know that can say they walked 20 miles with their Sunday?
  18. You’ll attend the Closing Ceremony: This is the celebration of the 3-Day, and a truly inspiring and emotional experience that many people deem the highlight of their weekend.
  19. You’ll be making a difference: Komen has set a Bold Goal to decrease breast cancer deaths in the US by 50% by the year 2026. Every step you take is a step towards making that goal a reality.
  20. …and you’ll probably be back next year 😊 Or at least we hope so! Once you’ve tried the 3-Day or walked the 3-Day in a new city, it will be tough to say “no” in 2019.

Come join us this year! You can still register at The3Day.org/20Mile.

Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3day walk in Novi, Michigan on August 4, 2017.