Never Giving Up: Meet Nikki S., Former AVON 39 Walker

Nikki (left) and her Aunt Lynne

“My aunt was a mother figure to me.  She had a huge hand in raising me, teaching me right from wrong, explaining all the joys of being a woman (lol), and so much more. She was my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, and wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out if it wasn’t for having her and my uncle in my life.”

Many of our 3-Dayers have lost loved ones to breast cancer, but that never makes hearing their stories any easier. It just adds to the motivation, focus, and determination to finding a cure. No one knows this better than Nikki S., who has been both a 3-Day and AVON 39 walker in the past.

She will be returning to the 3-Day this year in memory of her aunt and godmother, Lynne. Having walked in Boston in the past, Nikki knew she could not hang up her walking shoes after the AVON 39 left her home state, and so will be journeying to Philadelphia this September to walk for a cure. Coach Tisho is already “so excited to introduce her to the rest of our family,” and Nikki echoes that excitement as well.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to support the cause. Even with AVON no longer being offered, I needed to continue walking in my Auntie Lynne’s honor.”

Lynne’s husband, Nikki’s uncle

Her Aunt Lynne was first diagnosed with breast cancer when Nikki was young, and watching her courageous fight inspired Nikki to first join the 3-Day when she was in college.

“Being a stupid college student, I was pretty confident that I could walk the 60 miles without training AND wearing sneakers I had bought the week before. Funny, huh?! I made it through the first day and a half, until I couldn’t walk through the blisters anymore. I had to shuttle back to camp and call my aunt to come pick me up! We had a good laugh, and she was still proud of me for raising the money, supporting the cause, and trying.”

A few years later, Lynn’s cancer had progressed to metastatic stage 4, found in her lungs and throughout her bones. Nikki began walking the AVON 39 in Boston for Lynne. Sadly, in 2016, Lynne lost her battle — and Nikki lost her dear aunt.

Nikki and her uncle

When asked to describe the importance of the 3-Day, and breast cancer walks, she recalled memories of those tough times.

“Watching my Aunt’s health quickly deteriorate; Hearing her wish she could just go back to work and have normalcy; Having her there to listen to my “bad days” and offer advice, while she never complained about her treatment; Wanting more time and more of her advice; Seeing my Grammy and Grampy lose their first born; Watching my Uncle grieve the loss of his ‘bride’ after their 28 years of marriage and a lifetime of love; The heartbreak that my daughter still goes through, missing her Auntie.”

It is heartbreak that motivates Nikki and keeps her working towards a cure.

She’ll be heading to Philadelphia as a Super Fundraiser (she has raised more than $20,000 in total over the years for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and the AVON 39) and has a unique success strategy to reach her fundraising goals.

“I would like to surpass my fundraising from last year. I had organized and hosted a very successful comedy show fundraiser, and hope to do the same this year.  It was a great experience, and a great way to attack my fundraising goal.”

We are honored to welcome Nikki back to the 3-Day family this year. Alongside Nikki, we walk for Auntie Lynne. We will never give up.

Why We Walk: The Next Generation Takes on the 3-Day

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We love our participants of all ages, and every year a new crop of walkers joins the 3-Day family. Whether they come from up from the Youth Corps, are recruited by a current 3-Day walker, or join us after years of walker stalking, seeing the smile on a young walker’s face makes our Pink Bubble fill with so much love.

We talked to some of our younger participants who have become loyal 3-Day walkers in the last few years. They’re telling us why they walk now, and why they will continue to walk for years to come.

Sara Brothers

Sisters Sara B. Michigan 3-Day

“This journey started 12 years ago when I watched a 3-Day commercial. I was inspired to help change the world and give back to something that was meaningful. Three years after I started, my Nana, my best friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought for 10 months and lost her battle. So now, I walk in memory of my Nana. Every mile I walk, pain endured, and tear I cry is worth it because my Nana lost her life to breast cancer. Watching her fight that battle was one of the hardest things I have done. All the pain and suffering she endured is not something that people should have to go through. I know that every time I do this walk it will be meaningful because I will be walking in memory of her. She was my HERO and I owe it to her to fight to help find a cure! She influenced my life in many ways and helped shape the person I am today and I want her memory to live on.”

And Courtney B., Michigan 3-Day

“10 years ago when I signed up to walk, I thought I would be joining my sister on a fun filled weekend to raise money for a great charity. However, the walk quickly became so much more when our Nana was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Throughout her ten month journey, we learned so much about the wonderful things Susan G Komen® does… not only drug trials but through their local chapters. It was a no brainer for us to continue this journey. I continue to walk because over the past ten years, so much progress has been made in the world of breast cancer because of the money we raise and although my Nana wasn’t able to beat cancer, I know millions of others who are surviving daily.”

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Emily H., Michigan 3-Day

“I took my first steps on the 3-Day for my mother-in-law Lori. Her diagnosis is the reason breast cancer is a part of my life. But what started as her journey quickly became mine. I walk for my daughters, sisters, mother, and the ones that will come after us. Every story that was shared with me during my first 3-Day opened my eyes to the raw fact that cancer does not discriminate, not for race, age, size, family, or money. In a society that is filled with tiers of class (your age, your weight, your marital status, your job) breast cancer effects a little bit of all of us. By natural I am a maternal person. I am always looking to help those around me, and when I was introduced to the 3-Day I saw it as a way to help the people of the world I do not know. The ones that might not be a lucky as my family, who get to celebrate their survivor.

I take every step with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face because I know that with that step I become More Than Pink and am one step closer to helping a stranger celebrate their survivor.”

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Jesse (in his chicken costume) with his mom

Jesse K., Philadelphia 3-Day

“There are many reasons, but every time I walk the list of reasons continues to expand. I started participating in the walks with my mom Jane when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I did this to support my mother in the efforts to help eliminate breast cancer from people’s lives. As I walked with my mom each year I began to realize that we were not just walking to help fight breast cancer, but also for support. This support was something that helped my mom through her journey with breast cancer. This support for my mom came from deepening her friendship with established friends, meeting new friends and sharing stories and emotionally supporting each other through their journeys. These things were accomplished through the 3-Day walk and I don’t think there is another situation that could have facilitated such a supportive and understanding network of people. These people helped keep a smile on my mom’s face and passion to fight in her heart until breast cancer eventually took her life. Until my mom passed I didn’t fully appreciate this network of support.

While walking this past year for the first time after my mom had passed I did a lot of reflecting and realized that this support network of 3-Day friends was just as important to my journey as it was to my mom’s. I will continue to walk because every year I make new friends who help keep a smile on my face and passion in my heart despite the heartbreak I have experienced. These amazing people are also added to the list of reasons why I walk. I hope that I am as supportive and motivational for them as they are for me.”

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Kimberly C., Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

“In 2012 I joined the Youth Corps when my mom first started walking. At the time, I joined for three people in my life.

I was named after my mom’s best friend, Kim, who passed away from breast cancer in 2000 at the age of 39. She lived just long enough to see me born. I don’t have any memories of her personally but her family has become an extension of mine. Her mother is like a grandmother to me and her children are like cousins. All the stories I’ve ever heard about her just highlight how amazing of a woman she was, and it just isn’t fair that she left us so soon.

I also joined because of my Aunt Kay. She also passed away from breast cancer and I never really got the chance to know her. I love it when my cousins share stories about her, and it just emphasizes the fact that yet another person was taken too early from this world.

At the time, I also joined the Youth Corps because of my Great Aunt Julia, who I called Dudu. Before I was born she had battled breast cancer and won, and had been in remission for almost 15 years. About two months before the 2012 Dallas/Fort Worth event, her breast cancer came back. To me, it was a sign that this event was a necessity.

For three years I was on the Dallas/Fort Worth Youth Corps, and in 2015 I finally walked my first walk. Sadly, about a month before the Dallas/Fort Worth event that year, my Great Aunt passed away. That gave me the drive to walk those 60 miles and never give up.

In 2016, my second and third grade teacher, Shawn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In elementary school, she helped to mold the person that I am, and was quite possibly the best teacher I’ve ever had. Luckily, after a yearlong battle she is officially in remission. I wrote her letters every week to read during chemo and she has always been supportive of me on the 3-Day but now she says she is so thankful. I walk for her.

Since I started walking in 2015, I have walked five events in three cities, and will be walking my 6th and 7th, on my 9th and 10th event. I am 18 now and plan to keep walking until I don’t have a reason to any more.”

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Elizabeth G., Michigan 3-Day

“When I was eight, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, I just knew that she wasn’t home as much and had to go to the hospital for treatments. As she was going through her treatment plan, part of it changed as new research that was done at the University of Michigan, funded by Susan G. Komen, showed that she could have fewer chemotherapy treatments but it would still be effective. This meant that she could have 27 fewer chemotherapy infusions, and was able to be at home for 27 more days than she was supposed to. She finished her treatment plan, and has been considered cured for 11 years.

In 2010, a close family friend started a 3-Day team in my mom’s honor. We went up to Michigan to cheer her on, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing event. My mom joined the team the next year, but I couldn’t participate as I had to wait a few years more until I turned 16. The year I turned 16, I knew I wanted to walk, I did, and I was hooked. This year will be my 6th event, and I’m so excited. Someone walked for my mom, and now I’m able to walk for someone else. Knowing that the money I raise makes a difference is what keeps me going, and I’m so blessed that I can walk 60 miles with my mom by my side. I walk so that other kids are able to have their mom by their side for all the important events, like my mom can be.”

Are you joining us this year on the 3-Day? Tell us where in the comments!

If you haven’t registered yet, don’t forget to sign up before February 5th so you can get $20 off your registration fee at The3Day.org

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!