We Crew for MaMa Tutu: Meet Ken and Kris Kauker

The sign says it all!

Eight family members. More than 30 events. Walkers, crew, youth corps, walker stalkers. The Kauker and Lawrie families have the 3-Day running through their veins. And that includes Ken and Kris Kauker. Most Philadelphia 3-Dayers know them as the TuTu Brothers and remember their fun outfits and wide smiles as they ride by while on the Safety Crew.

They are just a small part of a true family movement to support the 3-Day’s mission, in memory of their mother, Julie Kauker (MaMa TuTu), who passed away from inflammatory breast cancer in 2011. With Mother’s Day this Sunday, Ken and Kris are giving us a deeper look at their family’s dedication to the 3-Day, and the love for their parents that started it all.

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Meet the Kauker/Lawrie family (TuTu family) members…

Our family of five was always a close family. We did everything together: family camping on the weekends, participating and watching sporting events, vacations to local destinations, working behind-the-scene at our local community theatre and even performing as a colonial family at local historic sites.

Thankfully, many of those things we still do. And yes, still as a family. At the head of the family were our parents. Mom and Dad (MaMa and PaPa TuTu) were involved with everything the family did. No one family member would ever end up being the only one. This goes for everything we do. If one of us is involved, we are all involved.

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And then in 2006, everything changed…

When our Mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, she wasn’t the only one getting ready for the battle. We were all involved with every aspect of the treatments, doctor’s visits, hospital stays and everything else that goes along with it. She didn’t go anywhere alone. Someone was always there taking notes, holding all the paperwork, asking all the questions and anything else we could do to make things a little easier.

Things moved quickly through chemo treatments, surgeries, and radiation treatments. We describe the days after a diagnosis like riding a roller coaster. There were the days of climbing the hills. There were the days of flying down the hill. There were the days of screaming around curves. There were days of being turned upside down. There were days when all we could do is hold on and scream in fear. But, like with all rollercoasters, the ride came to an end.

With the help of countless doctors and countless nurses, Mom was given a clean bill of health and the road to recovery was complete. And just like riding a rollercoaster, we laughed and were joyous that the ride was over.

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From there, the family began to move forward…

With everything behind us, it was a radio commercial that sparked the realization to pay it forward and the medium in which to do it. The commercial was for the Philadelphia 3-Day that would be taking place in October. It was this commercial that pushed our family into the realm of the 3-Day family.

And they never looked back…

Our 3-Day family has been with us since 2008. They’ve been there when we needed them and when we didn’t know we needed them. They were there when our Mom passed away and again 10 months later when our Dad passed away. They provided the light down the dark passages that cancer and losing someone forces you to go down. Every city that we’ve crewed has welcomed all of us with loving, open arms and made us a part of their family.

The Philadelphia 3-Day may be our home event, but when it comes down to it, the Crew is a part of every walk, no matter what city it takes place in.

That means our family is always part of the 3-Day, no matter where we are.

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Spread the love this Mother’s Day to the special women in your own life! You can share a personalized love note with your mom this Mother’s Day and Susan G. Komen will then share one with a mother facing breast cancer. komen.org/withlovexoxo

Coach Heather’s Mom is One in a Million. She’s Also One in Eight.

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As we approach Mother’s Day, we have a special guest post from Coach Heather, sharing her own family’s breast cancer story. This year, her mom will be celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time as a breast cancer survivor, and Coach Heather is sharing their journey together to remind us all the ways breast cancer can affect any one of us. We all think our moms are one in a million, but when they also become 1 in 8, everything changes.

 

Truly, never did I think that the 1 in 8 would be my mom. There has been zero history of breast cancer in our family. But sure enough, on the afternoon of February 18, 2019, she received the call with me by her side. I didn’t even have to ask…because I already knew. I could tell by the expression on her face. She had breast cancer.

The call came five days after her annual mammogram. In those five days she had two mammograms, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. They weren’t messing around…bam, bam, bam. This was all taking place in the hospital where she spent 37 years of her career and she had her “people” all around her.

Even after the call, we were in shock. Wait, what? Breast cancer? She had had no symptoms, no lumps, nothing that would ever concern her or lead her to believe she was at risk. She immediately started looking to blame this on something that she had done. Maybe she drank too much wine, maybe she consumed too much caffeine. She needed an explanation.

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Now, after some of the dust has settled, she is far more educated and realized that regardless of whether there were symptoms or not, she WAS at risk merely because she was aging, and because she was a woman. Sometimes, there is no explanation or logic.

The day after she heard her diagnosis, she left for a scheduled vacation. While I had the opportunity for the news to sink in and the chance to be angry, sad, and feel the roller coaster of emotions, she had to remain calm and cool because she didn’t want to put a damper on the vacation for those she was with. At least until she came home.

One week later we had a 3-hour appointment at the Cancer Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Macomb. We were so nervous, knowing that once this train left the station, it was rolling and there was no going back to life “before cancer.”

So, like we do in most situations, we walked through those doors optimistic, joking, and ready to tackle whatever came next. We met a wonderful surgeon who really laid it all out there. My mom had invasive ductile carcinoma, Stage 1, with a tumor smaller than a pea. A lumpectomy was discussed and the treatment plan that the surgeon, oncologist, and radiation oncologist laid out was far better than we originally thought.  The surgeon said “We caught this early. You are not going to die from breast cancer!”

Cue the BIG sigh of relief! But Mom still had so much ahead of her.

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The next week we walked back into Henry Ford for what Mom kept calling “three procedures.” We arrived at 8:30am for her 12:30pm lumpectomy. Prior to the actual lumpectomy, she had wires inserted to act as a roadmap for the surgeon, took a quick trip to nuclear medicine where she had dye injected into her nipple to further direct the surgeon to the location of the tumor, and then finally went into surgery. It went as well as it could go, and we were on our way back home by 3pm.  Mom felt great by 5:00pm, ready to eat Chinese food, and only needed two Aleve per day for the next few days. She was very lucky, and we knew that.

Outside of the breast cancer diagnosis, things have gone as well as they can for someone dealing with this life changing news and journey. About a week after the lumpectomy, Mom’s biopsy results came back with clean margins and no trace in the lymph nodes. Great news! Oncology testing results showed that chemo would not be necessary. So, a month of radiation and then five years of medication would be coming next.

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My mom is all about positivity but still knows that her life will never be the same. The days of reading breast cancer books, really “hearing” commercials related to breast cancer, checking labels for soy, and frowning on the red wine she used to love, are the new normal now. She doesn’t want to do anything to contribute to the development of another estrogen-induced tumor.

To say she is and was scared is an understatement. But much good has come of this as well. She is far more concerned about taking care of herself in regards what she consumes, her exercise regimen, and health in general from this point forward. She is also determined to share her story in hopes that her friends will understand the risks, re-evaluate their daily behavior, and (most importantly!) get their annual mammogram. As we always hear, and as Mom has learned, early detection is key.

I am part of a group of 9 women who have been friends since high school and in recent years, as we rapidly approach 50, I often wondered who would be the 1 in 8 to get breast cancer. Knowing the statistic that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, I was prepared that surely it would be at least 1 of us. I just never thought it would be my mom. But breast cancer can affect any and all of us. Now she’s not just one in a million. She’s also 1 in 8, and she is never going to quit.

Honoring a Mother’s Legacy of Love: Meet Ryan D. of the Philadelphia 3-Day

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“I walk 60 miles so my wife, daughter, friends and those I don’t even know, don’t have to fear this disease. I walk so every grandchild can be spoiled by their grandmothers. I walk today so others will not have to walk tomorrow. I walk because everyone deserves a lifetime.”

Mother’s Day is a chance to honor the women who mean the most to us, whether they are able to celebrate with us or not. For Philadelphia 3-Dayer Ryan D., this means that on Sunday he will not only be celebrating his wife, the mother of his children, but also the mother he lost to breast cancer.

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“Mother’s Day is one of the days I do take time and specifically reflect on my mother and remember all of the great Mother’s Day we celebrated.”

He has been walking “For Mama Doc” since losing her in 2011, spreading her loving and giving spirit with every step he takes. On this holiday, and always, he wants to ensure that no one else loses a mother to breast cancer. The 3-Day, he says, is a new part of his family, and one that helps him remember his mother in the best ways.

“I really wish everyone who has been impacted by this terrible disease could experience a 3-Day at least once, and I can tell you for sure it wouldn’t be their last. It is even hard for me to verbalize what the experience is. There is just something to be said about walking when you are sore and both physically and emotionally spent, to then have a car honk their horn or have someone say, ‘Thank you for walking.’ […] The 3-Days have been some amazing moments of my life.”

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In addition to his 3-Day family, he has been able to share his experience with his brother, who joined Ryan’s mission, and started walking in 2016. They were motivated, in part, to walk together because Philadelphia’s Closing Ceremony that year fell on what would have been their mother’s birthday. They walked all sixty miles together, and each crossed the finish line with their young daughters in their arms. Seeing the 3-Day anew from his brother’s eyes, Ryan says, brought them even closer.

“You can never truly appreciate what a 3-Day truly means until you participate in one. And I saw firsthand the awe on my brother’s face while he walked the first few miles and experienced these things that are so hard to explain.”

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Other family members support them, with Ryan’s dad even walking next to him for a few miles of Ryan’s first ever walk in 2012. They also have helped Ryan raise nearly $25,000 for the 3-Day cause, a landmark he hopes to pass this year. He also looks forward to once again feeling the support of the 3-Day community this fall.

This support is one he especially appreciates given that it was so important to his own mother to support those battling breast cancer. Following her initial recovery from breast cancer in 2009, she mentored countless people suffering from cancer by offering comfort and advice. Though “through the path of recovery there is tremendous uncertainty, fear, pain and self-esteem issues,” Ryan saw his mother provide support, guidance and empathy. This is true to how she lived her whole life, and how Ryan hopes to live his to best honor her legacy.

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“During these last years, my Mom has missed many wonderful events, which include her youngest son’s wedding, witnessing the births of her two beautiful granddaughters and a grandson. I walk to help ensure that no other family misses these special moments with their mothers.”

Ryan walks, and will never quit, for mothers everywhere. Today, and always, hold your family close, and remember that you walk for a reason. You walk for Ryan, for “Mama Doc,” and for families all over the world. And you will never quit either, until we end breast cancer forever.

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