“It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”
We are thrilled to induct another 3-Day participant into the Impact level of our Lifetime Commitment Circle. This exclusive honor is bestowed on those who have reached an incredible fundraising milestone—raising $250,000 for the 3-Day. Liz Goldman has been a part of the 3-Day family since 2004, and we are so inspired by her level of commitment. We asked Liz to answer a few questions so we could introduce you to this amazing woman.
How did you get involved with the 3-Day?
In 2003, when I was 41 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. After over a year of treatment, I signed up to do my first 3-Day in New York City. My aunt had crewed in Atlanta before and recommended I get involved. I signed up to walk and my husband signed up to be a crew member.
I met a woman on that walk who had a cancer similar to mine, and she was receiving Herceptin as part of her protocol. I came home and immediately called my oncologist. It was already on his radar, and I started Herceptin shortly thereafter. The research behind Herceptin was funded by Susan G. Komen. To this day, I am convinced (as is my oncologist) that Herceptin saved my life. The New York 3-Day was my first walk, but I knew it would not be my last.
We all know raising money during a global pandemic is not easy, but how did you do it?
To be honest, considering the pandemic, I wasn’t sure whether I should try fundraising at all this year. I didn’t want to be insensitive to people’s current problems and worries. But I realized—despite the existence of the COVID-19 scourge, women (and men) were still going to hear those life changing words: “you have cancer.”
So, a group of us from the NY/NJ area who had become friends through our perennial 3-Days decided to band together in defiance! We would do our “own 3-Day” this year. And with that I was off to the fundraising races once again. My dear friend, hero, inspiration, and 3-Day mentor Burt L. had hit the $250K mark earlier this year, and I was about $39K away from that milestone. Some say it is my competitive nature (lol); I say I was on a mission!
I expressed to my all of my donors that COVID-19 bedamned, I was still doing my 3-Day walk and that I was on a mission to reach a coveted goal: $250,000.
What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I wish I had a secret to share, but I really don’t. I can only tell you that I have very generous family and friends that have donated to me year after year. They have made my cause their cause, and I am incredibly grateful. I share my story, I “walk the talk” and I ask everyone I know (and many I don’t) for a donation. Honestly, with the cause on my mind so often, fundraising for the 3-Day becomes second nature.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the huge boost I receive from everyone I know and love. Their cheerleading and encouragement give me strength and inspire me to carry on with my mission of living in a world without breast cancer. And my husband Win leads the way. He has been a crew member (a much harder job than walking 60 miles) every year that I have walked. Breast cancer was not just my diagnosis, but his as well. Every one of my 3-Day walks, and every dollar I have raised, would not have been possible without his support and love.
What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
The answer to this question is easy but unfortunate: I will walk until I can’t, or until there is no need to, whichever comes first. There are too many women (and men) who still hear those words “you have breast cancer.” Their lives are turned upside down emotionally, mentally, and of course physically while going through difficult treatment. Sadly, too many still die, leaving behind loved ones way too early in life. I know that many have walked before me, and I benefited from their commitment and efforts. The funds they raised helped bring about early detection, and new treatments and protocols that give a better quality of life during treatment, resulting in extended and saved lives. I feel it is my obligation to pay it back and pay it forward.
What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
There are so many! The beautiful cities I’ve walked in and the lasting friendships I have made over the years will always fill my heart. Those very cute San Diego police officers who dance in their very cute uniforms, the cheering stations, the food, the rest stops, the food, the decorations, the food—well, you get the idea.
Unfortunately there are bittersweet ones as well: a daughter walking because her mom just passed away, a husband walking because he just lost his wife, a newly married young woman who just had a bi-lateral mastectomy at the age of 28. I hold onto these tearful memories just as tightly as the joyous ones, to remind me that I cannot stop walking.
Now that you’ve raised $250,000 what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
I just want to keep “walking the talk.” I am dedicated to training for the 3-Day, raising as much money as I can and spreading the word about breast cancer and Susan G. Komen.
For my 20th survivorship celebration in two years, I would like to do all the 3-Day walks that year and have my son and daughter join me on one. They have always been my reasons for everything. My cancer diagnosis was aggressive and quite frankly the outcome was not looking so positive when I was initially diagnosed. I am so grateful to be alive and be part of their lives every day.
How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
In the same spirit I mustered to do battle against this disease from a personal standpoint, I now do battle on a global basis, on behalf of all those women and men who deserve the same outcome I have enjoyed since being pronounced cancer-free.
Beginning with my first 3-Day, my thoughts about my cancer and my thoughts about the 3-Day have become more and more intertwined, to the point where when I share my story about breast cancer, the 3-Day is always, always a part of it.
I have always said, “It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”
Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
I think of the 3-Day as the perfect combination of celebration, remembrance, and forward-looking determination.
It’s a celebration of the strides we’ve made and a joyous gathering of everyone who, by their very presence, is a part of the Komen family and, as such, my extended family.
The remembrance is the solemn bittersweetness we feel and think of when remembering and honoring all those lost to this disease.
The forward-looking determination is the knowledge of how much good has come from what we have all contributed to the 3-Day, and the drive toward building on that foundation of progress, helping to create a brighter future for the world by eradicating breast cancer.
I am proud and honored to be a part of the 3-Day.
Thank you, Liz, for your many years of dedication to the 3-Day and our mission to end breast cancer. We’re honored to be such an important part of your life and are lucky to have you as part of our family. The incredible amount of money you’ve raised is working to save and extend the lives of thousands of women and men facing breast cancer.
Liz’s achievement will qualify her for the Impact level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. She joins Loretta E., Kathy G., Bert S., and Burt L. as Impact members at the $250,000 level.