My Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Story

By San Diego 3-Day Walker, Niki W.

I started doing the 3-Day in 2008 because a few of my fellow teacher friends invited me. I thought it was a perfect way to fundraise money towards breast cancer research, as I had lost a couple friends to this horrible disease. I also thought it would be a great way to spend time with these friends and to get exercise. I walked in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019. I plan on walking in 2021 as well.

In the midst of everything else that 2020 brought my way, I found a very large lump in November, in my right breast.

I went in two days later, and my OBGYN said it felt too big to be cancer and not to worry about it. She scheduled some tests anyway for December but told me it was probably nothing. I cancelled my appointments and moved them to January because the December tests conflicted with our holiday plans, and I figured it didn’t matter since my doctor had said not to worry.

I finally went in for the tests on January 18 and had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and blood tests. My mammogram came out normal but they were able to see the lump on the ultrasound and my lymph nodes were very enlarged. They scheduled a biopsy for February 3. On February 5, I was walking with a friend on the beach when my OBGYN doctor called and said that I had an invasive carcinoma tumor 7X6 cm that had already spread to my lymph nodes.

I was in shock for several days and stopped sleeping and didn’t have an appetite. The next two weeks were a blur of appointments, scans, and more, as I found out that I needed to start chemo right away for six months, then surgery (double mastectomy) followed by radiation, reconstruction and hormone therapy for five-ten years.

Once I got my test results back and learned that I was only Stage 3 and the cancer had not yet moved to my organs, I was able to get my hope back! I am now continuously leaning on God each day and knowing that he is here with me through this. 

My hair started falling out in early March.  After I couldn’t take it anymore, four of my 3-Day friends arranged an outdoor haircut in my backyard so that I would have support during this traumatic time. I woke up that morning thinking that this would be the hardest day of my life, and my stomach was in knots all morning. However, when they arrived all wearing cowboy boots and hats and blasting country music (my favorite!), I couldn’t help but smile. Throughout the haircut, I was filled with gratitude for these amazing friends being with me during this really difficult time. They turned my sadness into joy, and it became one of the most special, intimate afternoons of my life.

My friends and family (and particularly my 3-Day team) have been amazing and have been here for every step along the way with cards, gifts, flowers, and meals. They even added my name to our 3-Day team logo so that we will now be walking for me as well as many other teachers from our school who have fought the battle and survived! I can’t wait to walk in November and be at the other side of this battle and able to spread my hope to others. 

My message for others is to not give up hope and to rely on your faith, family, and friends to get you through this. You can’t do it alone and you will need their support! Embrace it and don’t reject it. There will be so many blessings if you allow other people in.

Top 3-Day Photos from 2019

We are getting fully immersed in the holiday season, 2019 is coming to a close, and the new decade is almost here! We can barely believe it! But, instead of getting nervous about gifts left to buy, parties to attend, or New Year’s Resolutions you need to plan still, let’s focus on the AMAZING year that was ❤️

We certainly had some heartwarming, inspiring, and unforgettable moments this year! If the memories below are any indication, 2019 was full of fun and love 🙂 Don’t forget, you can always see all of our event photos on our blog and Facebook page whenever you like. These are some of our favorite highlights from the year…but there are so many more to love.

Thank you for such a wonderful year…We can’t wait for 2020! We know it’s going to be our best year yet!

 

2019 San Diego 3-Day Wrap-Up

We could not have asked for a better weekend to finish up our 3-Days for 2019! The West Coast brought sunshine, perfect walking temperatures and tons of community support to the San Diego 3-Day this past weekend.

Friday dawned bright and cool as we started our walk at the Del Mar Fairgrounds once again. CEO of Susan G. Komen, Paula Schneider, and our Bank of America partners, delivered inspiring speeches before introducing local participants to lead our Opening Ceremony. Survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer led our walkers out into the sun and onto the route.

The start of Day One took walkers through the city of Del Mar, which always comes out in full force to support the 3-Day. Cheerleaders, local businesses and even the Toast Lady lined the streets to cheer walkers through their first few miles of the day.

After Del Mar, walkers made their way up and down the hills of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. With amazing views of the ocean, this reserve is always a favorite for photos and was lined with cheerleaders and well-wishers. From there, we made our way through the University of California San Diego campus and on to our lunch site at Kellogg Park.

Once again, walkers were beach side, and they enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine! We also met our San Diego 3-Day Youth Corps, who gave us a preview of their Honor Ceremony speeches. We left lunch inspired and ready to take on the afternoon. Walkers then made their way through La Jolla before coming home to our campsite at Crown Point Shores. The sun set as our last walkers came home, and our 3-Day family was complete at the end of Day One.

Day Two began with our Bank of America Breakfast of Champions, where we honored top San Diego 3-Day fundraisers, as well as our Milestone and Local Impact Award Winners. It was such a fun and celebratory way to start Saturday!

From there, walkers made their way through San Diego with stops at Ocean Beach and Robb Field before we came to lunch at Bonita Cove. It was a sunny and spacious spot for our Halfway Celebration! Mark led everyone through our final halfway dance for the year, and then the San Diego Police Department led in further celebratory dances before lunch closed.

Saturday afternoon passed quickly, and soon our walkers were back at camp at Crown Point Shores. Our last walker kicked off our final Honor Ceremony for 2019. This ceremony honors all of the reasons we commit to this cause, including members of our San Diego community, survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer. We then raised candles to the night and renewed our promise to continue to walk, and fight, for the cures for breast cancer.

On our final day of the walk, we said goodbye to our beautiful campsite and spent the day walking through downtown San Diego. From Mission Beach Park and Bonita Cove to a cheering station at Sea World, walkers had plenty of time to enjoy the California sun and surf. Right before lunch, walkers conquered the infamous Juan Street Hill! More community support cheered everyone up the hill, and everyone made it to the top with smiles and hearts full of accomplishment!

Then we had a quick lunch stop before finishing our 60-mile journey at Waterfront Park. Our finish line festival was quite the celebration, complete with live music, games, and medals from Bank of America.

And then our 2019 3-Day season ended with an amazing Closing Ceremony, complete with one final dance party as the sun set on the West Coast. Our 1,900 walkers and 325 crew members had a lot to celebrate: they had raised $5.7 million in the fight against breast cancer!

San Diego, you and your community were amazing hosts for our final 3-Day of the year! Thank you all for your support and love and dedication to our cause. We can’t wait to see you in 2020!