2016 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day Wrap-up

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On Friday morning, a brilliant blue-tinged sunrise illuminated the smiling faces of over 2,600 walkers ready to take the first steps of their 60-mile journey starting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

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Towering palm trees lined the paths to the coast, as walkers breathed in fresh sea air on their way to the cheering stations and pit stops, which paved the way for our entrance into the idyllic Torrey Pines State Park, known notoriously for its giant hills but also its sweeping views.

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At mile 10.6, the UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography cheered us on with joyful enthusiasm and pompoms, and then it was on to lunch at Kellogg Park. Our final pit stops of the day, at La Jolla Lutheran Church and Christ Lutheran Church kept us fueled up with grahamwiches and sports drink, and we loved the La Jolla Cove seals, who barked as walkers selfied.

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After an amazing day of 20.5 miles, back in camp at Crown Point Shores Park, we were treated to a moving speech by survivor Heather, 7-time walker and currently battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and we all walked back to our tents inspired to pound the pavement strongly on Day 2.

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Walkers worked out their aches and pains the first few miles of Day 2 with photo opps with friendly creatures from Sea World! A barn owl, a screech owl, a porcupine, and a river otter were along the path, along with the Sea World Mascot, ready to strike a pose with our fabulous 3-Dayers.

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From Sea World it was past Robb and Ocean Beach Fields, and then Pit Stop 2, at the top of a scenic vista at Sunset View Elementary, leading to a wonderful downward stretch back along the coast.

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Lunch at Bonita Cova was muy bonita, and filled with amusements, from Chippendales dancer straight from Las Vegas, to thousands of vibrant Gerbera Daises being gifted to our strong walkers and crew. The San Diego Police Department also entertained us with a long and rockin’ dance party.

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The way out of lunch gifted us with friendly pets and licks from therapy dogs, and then onward to South Mission Beach Park and Belmont Park. img_9852

Pit Stop 4 at Fanuel Park was aloha, and as walkers hydrated and stretched, they said Mahalo to the Pit Stop and Aloha to the famous Cookie Lady, passing out hundreds of homemade cookies.

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The last two miles brought us through our inspiring Survivor Stretch, lined with the warriors of breast cancer, inspiring us to go on. Back in Camp, we honored and celebrated our 2016 Award Winners, and then danced the night away with our Youth Corps before retiring to our pink tents to drift off to dream of a world free of breast cancer forever.

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At 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, we were all on our way toward Pit Stop 1 at De Anza Cove, and then the jubilant cheering station at the Mission Bay Park Visitor Information Center. The South Shore Park housed our Pit Stop 2, which at 7.1 miles, was where blisters were treated by our handy medical crew, water bottles were refilled, and the Youth Corps cheered up tired walkers with silly jokes and their energetic cheering.

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From Pit Stop 2 we began our walk into Old Town San Diego, where we started the ascent up the fabled Juan Street hill, aided by local Mexican restaurants serving free chips and salsa.

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Though the hill was challenging, we were applauded by survivors carrying signs saying “People like you saved my life”, spectators passing out sliced pickles, and adorable dogs in pink shirts.

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We loved the mansions towering over San Diego on our way into lunch at Pioneer Park, where salads and sandwiches helped us get ready for our final four miles of the day.

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The stunning Balboa Park housed cheering stations and our Pit Stop 3, where we posed with bronze statues, stretched, and then snapped pictures at the beautiful mile 59 marker drawn in chalk before our final two miles into Waterfront Park.

After 15.6 miles on Day 3, we marched proudly into the twilight of Closing Ceremony, surrounded by sweeping palm trees and our loved ones. Dusk descended upon the 3,000 people gathered in the park, and Dr. Sheri and Amber Livingston told us the astounding news that with our 2,600 walkers and 350 crew, we raised $7.6 million dollars. As we hugged and celebrated and danced, our message rang loud and clear; that though our feet may ache, our spirit, our tenacity, and our dedication will live forever; through aches, and pain, and blisters. We are shouting loudly and proudly that in this fight, where we seek to live in a world free of breast cancer, WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP. Thank you, San Diego. We are so very proud of you.

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If you’re ready to be a part of this incredible journey again in 2017, sign up now for just $35 at The3Day.org/Register.

 

The Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day Honors Our Opening Ceremony Speakers

We began our 2016  Komen 3-Day with an inspiring and beautiful Opening Ceremony as the sun rose above the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Crew members, walkers, and supporters joined their hearts and hopes in the shared promise of bringing about the end of breast cancer, one footstep at a time. Take some time to get to know our Opening Ceremony speakers.

Kara Corridan & Trish Jansen – My Friend

We lost two of our childhood friends, Kelly and Linda, in the last year. They were both 44 when they died and both had triple-negative breast cancer. They also have five children between them, ages 5 to 18. We are walking to help fund research and prevent another family from the heartbreak that Kelly’s and Linda’s families are going through. I’m Kara, and I’m Trish, and we ARE the 3-Day.

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Allison Lustig – My Aunt

Ten years ago, my family and I began our 3-Day journey in honor and support of my Aunt Judy’s victory with breast cancer. Today,
I begin my 14th event as a first-time walker, in celebration of her 15th year of being cancer free! I will walk with her strength, determination, courage and love. I’m Allison and I am the 3-Day.

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Becky Izadi – My Father

I walk in honor of my father, Ron Lewis, who lost his battle to breast cancer 5 years ago. I’m here to bring awareness to the effect this disease has on men, as well as women. Before he passed away, my father urged me to seek early testing, and as a result I discovered that I TOO had breast cancer. Thanks to my superhero, I will live a longer, healthier life. Love you, Dad! I’m Becky and I AM the 3-Day.

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 Emmanuel Bryant – My Mother

I’m thankful to be here surrounded by my 3-Day family. I joined the 3-Day last year in Seattle, and after the first day, I knew this was something I wanted to keep doing. I walk in memory of my Mom, JeRhonda Lynem. I also walk for every woman, man and child that has been affected by breast cancer. I’m Kentucky and I am the 3-Day.

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 Mike Hattrup – My Wife

This will be my sixth 3-Day supporting my wife and Team Michelle, but my first time walking! Instead of cheering from the sidelines, I decided to walk this year beside my wife, who has been battling breast cancer off and on for the last three years. I’m proud to be part of this great team of fighters! I’m Mike and I AM the 3-Day.

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 Helen Hall – My Sister

This is my 18th walk with my sister who is a 37-year breast cancer survivor. I walk because I believe that one day there will be a cure for breast cancer. I’m Helen and I AM the 3-Day.

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Male Breast Cancer: Rare but Real. Meet the Gillers.

Lee and Kathy Giller have been married for 35 years, making their home in Akron, Ohio. Lee and Kathy’s story is similar to many in our 3-Day community: a strong, loving partnership, an inspirational fight, and a family forever changed by a breast cancer diagnosis. However, there’s one unusual twist to this story. It’s not Kathy who has breast cancer—it’s Lee.

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“Lee was first diagnosed in 2005 after feeling a small lump in his breast. Even though we knew men could face breast cancer, it didn’t occur to either of us that this is what he might have. In fact, he first went to a dermatologist thinking the lump was just a cyst,” said Kathy. “The day Lee came home and told us that he had breast cancer, we and our children just huddled in embrace and cried. Cancer is still such a frightening word and is fraught with so many dark thoughts. But once we got past the initial shock and fear, we circled our wagons and began the fight of our lives.”

Like many who face the same diagnosis, Lee had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. As Lee was finishing up his treatments, his daughter Pamela asked if he wanted to join her for a breast cancer walk. “At first, I was a little offended that Pam didn’t ask if I wanted to participate with them,” said Kathy. “But then she explained that the walk was 60 miles and you camped out and I knew why I wasn’t included! This was something far out of my realm. But it didn’t take me long to decide that if Lee could go through everything he had faced, then I should be able to walk 60 miles and even camp out.”

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While the thought of walking and camping were daunting for Kathy, she was most concerned about the fundraising. It’s no secret that at the 3-Day, we ask you to raise $2,300, an ambitious but reachable goal, and an amount that makes a huge impact in the fight against breast cancer. Luckily, Kathy said that fundraising was the easiest part, thanks to the generosity of family and friends. “We’re often asked how we raise so much money and the answer I always give is that like breast cancer, I’m relentless. I ask everyone, I’m persistent, and I always express our heartfelt gratitude. Fundraising is nothing more than a conversation, sharing your personal story. If you are compelling and sincere, people will respond.”

Just six months after Lee finished treatment, team Breast Man Walking walked 60 miles in the Boston 3-Day, using the slogan “Male breast cancer: Rare but Real” to spread awareness with every step. The Gillers have been walking since 2006: with family, their children, Pamela, Annie, and Jay, and a dear friend, Nancy Schrader, whom they met when she was walking on the 3-Day solo.

The Gillers registered for the 2016 San Diego 3-Day, which would mark their 19th walk, but unfortunately, the Gillers will not be able to join us us in San Diego this year. Since his recurrence in 2012, Lee is Stage IV and now fighting cancer in his lungs, bones, liver and brain. While we’re walking on the San Diego 3-Day, the Giller family will be close to Lee’s side, but they are hopeful to return to the 3-Day next year.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

After Lee’s diagnosis, he decided to have genetic testing. Being male, aged 48, and Jewish were all red flags that his cancer was hereditary. Lee learned that he was BRCA positive, which meant that there was a 50% chance his three children could have the same mutation. At first, only his daughter Pamela wanted to be tested. She discovered that she also had the same BRCA1 mutation. She was monitored very closely, beginning mammograms and breast ultrasounds at the age of 25. “Then one day when she was just 28 years old, we received a call that no parent could ever imagine. She said, “Mom, I have some good news and some bad news. I have breast cancer, but it was caught early.”

Pamela had a bi-lateral mastectomy but did not need further treatment, and just this past year, had a preventative removal of her ovaries, called an oophorectomy. “Once Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer, our other two children immediately understood how real this disease was. They were both tested for the BRCA1 mutation. Our son has it but our other daughter does not. Unfortunately, there is no protocol for screening men who are BRCA-positive. Self-exams and clinical breast exams are the only recommendations,” explained Kathy.

Kathy’s dear friend Nancy describes Kathy as unstoppable. “Being a co-survivor for both Lee and Pamela has been a labor of love. She will do anything for them, and does. She is passionate about her fundraising because she wants a cure!” said Nancy. Kathy is applauded in the 3-Day community as a fierce advocate for male breast cancer awareness, and has raised a whopping $340,000 since 2006, and over $50,000 this year alone. Kathy’s team has raised almost a half a million dollars since 2006. As Lee’s primary caretaker, Kathy, along with Lee and her family, have made enormous contributions, and not just in fundraising. Kathy avidly encourages the inclusion of the word “men” anytime women and breast cancer are mentioned, and these victories have been evident to those who are close to this cause.

“For those people who think not enough has been done to advance breast cancer research, I would say that of course, we always need more. We still haven’t found the cure. But we have come a long way and Lee is living proof of that. When he was diagnosed with his recurrence 4 years ago, he was told that the average life span would be about 26 months. He’s still here. He still has many treatment options. This would not be the case if it weren’t for organizations like Komen and others who have dedicated themselves to fighting this disease.”

While it is both tragic and unfair that Kathy’s family has been so personally hit by breast cancer, we know that her contributions, while working alongside her family, have changed the public awareness of breast cancer in innumerable ways. We are continuously grateful to warriors like Kathy, Lee, Pamela, Annie, Jay, and Nancy for coming together, to shine a light for families in their darkest times. We all long for a day when breast cancer is just a thing of the past, and new patients can be treated quickly, effectively, and cured. But until then, Kathy reminds us that while we have made so much progress, we must still stay and fight, because: “Breast cancer is an equal opportunity employer: any age, any gender, any color. Be diligent.”

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.