Shannon B. Is Ready to Join the Pink Bubble

Breast cancer survivor Shannon B. will be making her Susan G. Komen 3-Day debut in Chicago this year. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, recently undergoing reconstruction surgery and raising over $32,000 to date, Shannon is ready to take on 60 miles and join the Pink Bubble. 

What is your connection to breast cancer?  

I was diagnosed with stage 2, HER2+ breast cancer in October 2020, had 6 rounds of TCHP chemo, a full year of Herceptin, a bi-lateral mastectomy with 7 lymph nodes removed, 28 radiation treatments, and most recently, reconstruction surgery. 

Why did you sign up for the 3-Day?  

Ironically, I have felt so lucky and privileged through this whole process of having support, good insurance, a flexible employer, and a “best possible outcome” of being cancer-free with a low chance of recurrence. I know that SO MANY others have it much harder than I have, and I feel like I NEED to do something to help others fight breast cancer and fund research that has helped save my life. My oncologist told me that just 10-15 years ago HER2+ breast cancer was one of the deadliest because they didn’t yet know how to treat it. It’s because of research, trials, and the incredible individuals before me that my medical team knew the exact path forward to get me to this cancer-free stage. 

What do you hope to gain from this experience?  

More than anything I hope to make a difference, so others don’t have to deal with this disease, the treatments, side effects, surgeries, etc. Or if they do, maybe the money I raise can help make it just a little bit easier by helping with medical bills, transportation, etc. 

How did you raise so much money in such a short period of time?  

I am no fundraising superstar, but am surrounded by incredible people in my personal and professional life. I have worked at the same company for over 10 years and have built amazing relationships with people all over the country. My family and friends have never wavered in their support. I created a fundraiser on Facebook and posted on LinkedIn and Instagram. My birthday and anniversary of my last TCHP chemo treatment is coming up so I hope to do a few posts to bring in another wave of donations. I have raised A LOT of money, but it still wouldn’t cover the cost of one of my chemo treatments pre-insurance. 

What are you most looking forward to regarding the event?  

I am looking forward to being surrounded by others who are so committed to the cause that they are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to this incredible challenge. And selfishly, I am walking with one of my best friends and I can’t wait to have three days together! What am I least looking forward to (not that you asked)? I am a crier and will likely be crying 80% of the three days; it will be a hard weekend emotionally. 

What advice would you like to seek or questions you’d like to ask from any veteran walkers?  

Please tell me the blisters are avoidable! I can and have survived a lot, but I am a big wimp when it comes to blisters! 

Do you have any advice for Shannon or any other first-time walkers? Tell us your best tips and tricks for conquering the 3-Day in the comments! 

My Village: The Difference Between Surviving and Being a Survivor

By Emily H.

This is my version of Emeril’s ‟BAM!” I have never loved my kitchen more than I do now! It is wallpapered with cards from friends near and far who are supporting me along my breast cancer journey. It started with the first card I received that reads, ‟Today’s showers bring tomorrow’s blooms.” I taped it right above my kitchen sink, somewhere I visit often, so I would see it over and over again, reminding myself this is only a part of my story. As more and more cards came in the mail I wanted a way to keep all those positive thoughts front and center. Away it grew to my whole kitchen! Words do not do my feelings justice. I have always known I had good friends and family, but when I needed them the most, they all showed up. I am both thankful and very blessed to have a village this strong! It has truly been the difference between surviving and being a Survivor. 

Community by definition is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. To me, community is an evenly balanced group of people who share passion for the same thing. Our 3-Day community is made of all types of beings (men, women, children, and pets) who share one common goal: to spread the Pink Bubble love. We all come to the table with different goals, some want to raise money, some just want to find a cure, some need support, and some just like to walk. But all in all we are a group of people (a community) that wants the world to be a little more pink. My community support means so much that without it I would fail. I know that no matter what challenge I am faced with I can turn to that community and someone will rise to the occasion and help me succeed. 

My 3-Day journey began five years ago when I registered to walk in celebration of my mother-in-law, Lori, who had just fought her own battle with breast cancer. I quickly found a passion for FUN-raising and was able to arrive to camp a Top 10 fundraiser my first year. I fell in love with the ‟Pink Bubble” and all the people who make the 3-Day happen. There were so many stories, so many hugs, and so many reasons to keep coming back. I brought my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Heather, along with me for walk two and then a best friend, Rachelle, for year three. 2020 was our ‟year off” as I call it, and I was aiming high for 2021. I wanted to reach $20,000 in lifetime donations for my five-year anniversary. And I did!

But as 2021 began I was given a new challenge, being diagnosed with breast cancer myself. My diagnosis came as a huge shock as I do not hit very many risk factors. I am only 29, had all my kids young, breastfed all my babies, no family history, and am generally in good health. But as we all know cancer does not discriminate. One more reason to keep on walking. I look forward to being reunited with my ‟Pink Bubble” family in the future and know that my journey as a survivor is just beginning.

If I could only share one thing with the 3-Day family it would be don’t give up! Keep on fighting, fundraising, and spreading the Pink Bubble love. The past few years have been tough on everyone for different reasons. We all learned things and took the time to grow in personal ways. But overall as a society, I think we discovered we could all use a little work! So don’t give up and keep on fighting, for yourself, your mission, and anything and everything that brings you joy! You all bring me joy and I am so thankful. 

Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Barbara B.

We had such an amazing time with our 3-Day family at the 2021 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on November 7th. One big reason was getting to hear from a couple of our inspiring 3-Day walkers. Barbara B. (BB) spoke at our evening celebration and really moved us with her story. If you didn’t get a chance to hear her speak, here is her story, in her own words.

Good Afternoon everyone! I’m BB, 😊 your motorcycle mad, corner cut-up, tutu-toting route safety lady from Atlanta. Although we are all participating where we are and just “together” virtually, I know you stretched, danced and stayed safe (’cause I sent all y’all those vibes all day long).

Growing up I’d heard of cancer; it’s bad, people get very sick. I was remotely aware of someone who lost their battle with cancer. Cancer support was something done randomly as a small donation. Then cancer became a very scary word. That word was devastating when I heard the statement, “He has cancer.”

When my son Mathew was just two years old, cancer crashed into my life with his diagnosis of neuroblastoma. He went from a vibrant active little boy to a warrior fighting for his life. I had to be an advocate, a nurse, and a Mom. I couldn’t do that without those cancer supporters who provided me with the knowledge — about the disease, the treatments, and what to expect.

As cancer and the treatments ravaged his little body — we turned again and again to the various services provided by supporting agencies for emotional support, especially for his older sister, whose friends and classmates couldn’t comprehend what cancer meant and what she was dealing with. We received financial support for those costs that you don’t always consider, like custom bandages, travel, and even meals and lodging at the hospital. Unfortunately, the day came when the cancer support I needed was counseling, when I said my final goodbyes to my 4-year old warrior, hero, and son.

Cancer — it’s one small word, but it’s a horrible disease with so many forms that know no boundaries. It can strike the young, the old, the poor, the wealthy, the mothers, the fathers, the sons, and the daughters. As this scourge invaded my family: my aunts, my uncles and then down into my cousins, my primary doctor took this as a warning and wanted me to have a mammogram. She told me, “I know you are young but with your family history and your breast density, you need to get this done and at least this will give us a baseline. With what your family has endured, I want to keep my eyes on you.” (It’s great to have a physician who supports not just your physical well-being, but also understands your mental health.) Of course, at age 34 my insurance balked at such a procedure, questioning, “Is it unnecessary?” She is not of age yet.” My doctor’s persistence began my journey.

She reached out to the local Komen Affiliate and introduced me to the wonderful family of Susan G Komen advocacy. Together we presented my case — the worries, the family history, the breast density, etc. I was accepted and given a scan. I had no idea what the scan would entail other than they were going to take a “closer look inside my breast tissue.” Boy was that a painful, pressure-induced eye opener. 😊 But I thought, “I did it, we’ve got a baseline. I’m too young, everything will be OK”. Just 72 short hours later I heard words that were scary and confusing: “We see several masses in your scan, you need to come in for more tests.”

Now, as a momma bear, fighting for my son and my family came naturally. Researching, asking, discussing, and fighting for the best is what I do. But when the diagnosis came and it was about me, I froze in fear and felt a black hole open in front of me of isolation and inevitability. <<Big Sigh>>

I was not alone. I had the Susan G. Komen family in my corner, at my side and holding me up. The next days were spent meeting advocates, others in treatments, reading materials, websites and pamphlets and books. The support and guidance were like a rain shower that rejuvenates. With their help I learned the options and the opportunities and started to believe all would be OK.

Of course, trying to convince my young teenage daughter (who was just blooming into her own womanhood) that this menace was a different type of cancer, and her mother’s life would not end in the same tragedy that ended her younger brother’s life, was a challenge indeed. But again, with the resources of information and contacts that Susan G. Komen put us in contact with, she put on her gloves and fought by my side.

In 2006 I had a radical double mastectomy, chemo and radiation. This took a couple of years to maneuver and recover. At the time, I was involved in trying to pay it forward for childhood cancer, via St. Jude’s for all they did for my son, for us and to try to help other families.

With the support they were giving me, I just knew I would become involved with Susan G. Komen so that I could pay it forward to help families fight against breast cancer. I signed up to be a survivor advocate with my local Komen Affiliate and through them found out about the 3-Day. Of course I signed up!

But then I was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer. The treatments and research done by Komen were some of the life-saving treatments I received then as well. Komen is always doing amazing work. It took me another couple of years, but I finally got back to the 3-Day in 2012 when by luck, a friend reached out because they needed help with Route Safety.

I had no idea what I was signing up for other than I knew I would be on my motorcycle and supporting the 3-Day walkers. I would be cheering and raising awareness around my city. I have a feeling the Komen family didn’t know what they signed up for when they asked me to participate. <Grin>

I’ve been on the Route Safety crew ever since. I’ve been blessed to help some amazing walking teams with local fundraisers, which always, in some type of way, seems to let me help a family by sharing the story of Komen and all the programs and support they provide. The more I became involved, the more I wanted to do, so several years ago I decided to put my vacation days towards supporting the 3-Day in other cities. My Pink family has grown beyond expectations and fills my heart with such joy it’s hardly containable.

I’ve found such a wonderful additional family — a supporting family — a FUN family in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day! From the first volunteer event to this coming year of actually {gulp} walking two events, this organization has fit every asset of my personality and needs to a T. I love all the supporting hugs, encouraging words, hard-working, loving, and even the craziest of costumes.

These 3-Day events are something I look forward to each and every day of the year. I can’t help but brag about all you do and all it means; mere words can’t describe the experience. To date I’ve personally raised over $20,000! I overcame my shyness to help raise money, as research is the foundation for a cure. I’ve overcome my hesitancy to become involved, because I know from personal experience how much these support systems mean. But more importantly, I know how much it will take to end this scourge we call cancer.

The 3-Day heals me in a way that no medicine could, every time I crew. I crew because for three days I can escape the cancer that has followed me for years. For three days I am surrounded by people like me, people with similar scars to me, similar nightmares to me. It’s a place where I don’t feel different.

The 60-mile journey with the walkers is a time for me to heal and rejoice in surviving. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is hard, but it’s not as hard as breast cancer. It’s not as hard as chemo. It’s not as hard as getting bad news at your latest scan. It’s not as hard as saying goodbye. And that’s why I know I have to do this. That’s why I commit.

Thank you, BB, for being so brave and sharing the story of your journey and everything your family has been through — both at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off and again here for all to read. We can’t wait to welcome you back to the 2021 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day next November!

To hear more inspiring stories like this, you have one more chance by attending our San Diego 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on November 21st. RSVP today.