“Dear Cancer, you lose…”: Meet Survivor and First-Time 3-Dayer, Sylvia G.

If I had to write a letter to cancer it would read, “Dear Cancer, you lose…”

Sylvia just finished five and a half weeks of radiation after being diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her 40th birthday. Though she initially was shocked and numbed by her diagnosis, she gathered her family and friends around her and got “gangsta with cancer” by refusing to let it stop her from living her life and celebrating every minute of it.

Now, after finishing her radiation, she says, “I am feeling strong and just getting settled into my new normal. The silver lining throughout this process has been to just really LIVE because you never know! And of course, if you’re busy living, you have less time to worry about the small (or big) stuff.”

She is on the other side of one part of her breast cancer journey, but that doesn’t mean the journey is over. After her diagnosis, Sylvia did research into all of the work that Susan G. Komen does to support survivors and those living with breast cancer. This, in turn, led her to the 3-Day. She signed up immediately for the New England 3-Day and will be driving in from her hometown of Pelham, New York to walk in her first-ever 3-Day at our New England 3-Day in September. She’s already fundraised more than $3,500 and is continuing to spread the word about the 3-Day and breast health. To say that breast cancer hasn’t slowed her down is an understatement! But don’t take it from us! Sylvia is here to share her story in her own words…

Tell us your breast cancer story…

I had just turned 40 when my world was turned upside down. I received a call I never expected.

“You have breast cancer.”

And just like that I was numb. The music stopped, and the party was over.

While still in shock, my family immediately took me to my mom’s breast surgeon. She had just finished treatment for stage 1 breast cancer the year before and was a total champion throughout it all, I might add. I was able to get positive preliminary information specific to my breast cancer which helped me start to feel the ground a bit.

We decided to go for several other opinions with breast surgeons and reconstruction surgeons. After choosing the team I felt most comfortable with, we opted for the nipple sparing double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. My diagnosis after surgery ended up being stage 2 breast cancer that had spread to one lymph node. I learned that I would have to have four rounds of chemo plus radiation.

In the days leading up to my first round of chemo, I kept reflecting on how blessed I am to live in a time of so many medical breakthroughs as well as options for treatment of breast cancer. This is when I realized that I needed to be part of helping to continue these advancements and fight to end breast cancer.

And how did this journey lead you to the 3-Day?

I had read online about Susan G. Komen and how much they have done for research, education, screening and treatment. I knew I had found the right match for my mission to bring us closer to a cure so that so many other people, including my children, will not have to suffer through this. I was gearing up to get gangsta with cancer!

And you have! You’ve been very successful with your fundraising efforts!

I immediately started my fundraising by following all the tips on the 3-Day website. Posting on Facebook, personally emailing all my family and friends, remembering to always send thank you emails as well as follow up emails and telling people about corporate matching gifts. At the end of the day, I really am so blessed to have generous and caring people in my life, some of who also have been impacted by this disease, and I am forever grateful for their support.

Though I have had success in fundraising there does come a point that you have to get creative to be able to keep getting donations outside of just family and friends. One way is to go through all your contacts and see who has a business or works for a company that can partner up with you to create a fundraiser. This in turn allows you to use their resources and reach a larger audience to support your cause.

So far, I am very proud of how much I’ve been able to raise, and I am really looking forward to meeting other survivors, hearing their stories of fearlessness, as well as bonding with my team. I can only imagine that feeling of accomplishment after finishing the 3-Day walk!

What are some of your other 3-Day goals?

I want to reach as many people as possible and remind them of the importance of getting regular mammograms because early detection of breast cancer can make the disease easier to treat. I will also continue to stay focused on my health and positivity so that I can be my best self.

I still have a long way to go but since becoming a survivor I don’t think I can ever justify sweating the small stuff.

I have been dealt a couple bad hands but at the end I plan on winning the game!

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Every Step is a Journey

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Welcome to the Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day! If you’re not sure what you’re in for, let us tell you!

If you haven’t read our earlier installments, you can check them out here:

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No one is better qualified to add to our Insider’s Guide than 3-Day Coach Gina, who has walked the Michigan 3-Day, and now leads both the Michigan and Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day as our Crew & Volunteer Coordinator. Gina is also a breast cancer survivor, and deep supporter of every member of our 3-Day family, from walkers to crew to Youth Corps and beyond. She is sharing her personal memories and 3-Day journey with us, in the hopes that her story might inspire others to join our family.

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Getting Ready: 3-Day Fundraising

  • Ask everyone…and then ask again! Never doubt how much family and friends want to support you on your 3-Day journey. For participants, “the ask” isn’t easy, but you are asking for a cause you believe in, so allow donors to see your passion and how much you are willing to do in this fight.
  • Whether or not a person donates, ask them to forward your email onto their family and friends…And watch your donor circle grow. Always remember that follow-up is key!
  • Utilize social media and have fun with it. Try a Ten Dollar, or Twenty Dollar Tuesday, “I am walking for…” Wednesday, High Five Dollar Friday…the possibilities are endless. Create that sense of urgency and enjoy the process of connecting with folks while watching your fundraising grow.
  • Double (even triple) your fundraising dollars with a matching gift. Check out our matching gift page at The3Day.org/Matching for detailed instructions. Simply ask every donor, “Does your company participate in a matching gift program?” That $25 donation might become a $50 donation!

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Getting Ready: 3-Day Training

  • Follow the suggested training program and make it your own. Given everyone’s busy schedules, it might seem daunting when you look at the entire 24-week or 16-week training schedule. Take it week by week and get the miles in when you can.
  • A lunchtime or evening walk (once it’s not so hot!) is always good. You’ll probably find that the weekends will be when you train the most, but this will differ from person to person. For me, it was important that I saw my mileage increase each week, not necessarily my number of training walks.
  • Look for official training walks being led in your area at org/TrainingWalks. These are led by 3-Day training walk leaders and are an excellent way to train, meet fellow walkers and have some good ‘ole 3-Day fun!

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And then it begins…Friday morning on the 3-Day

You cannot deny the buzz in the air the morning of the Opening Ceremony. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation, lots of moving pieces…And lots of PINK! Get your tissues ready (or at least I did!) once the Opening Ceremony begins, because it’s an experience like no other. An experience that sets the stage for your three days ahead.

Taking on 60 miles!

To say you are fully supported on the 3-Day route is an understatement.

From the pit stops, where you refuel and rehydrate to the Porta-Potties, where you…well, you know! The cheering stations where families, the community and strangers who are now friends come out to cheer on walkers and sprinkle encouragement through their words and signs.

I must give a shout out to our all-volunteer and all-around amazing Crew. Crew members commit to all three days like the walkers and experience a different kind of 3-Day. You will find Crew around every turn, and at camp, making sure walkers are fully supported. At pit stops, the lunch stop, and patrolling the route on motorcycles and bicycles. Crew sets up camp, hauls participants’ gear. Medical Crew makes sure participants are happy and healthy all weekend.

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One of the high points for me personally is seeing the Youth Corps, our friends in yellow. These are youth who commit to serving the walkers throughout the weekend. To see these kids and teens giving their time and energy to the fight against breast cancer really speaks to our future.

If I can sum up my experience it’s that I remember, at times, thinking, “I cannot walk another step.” Then I would look around, see my fellow walkers, and the support, and I would realize that walking is the easy part and we keep going because hearing the words, “you have breast cancer” will forever change a person’s life.

Camp: A More Than Pink Sleepover!

Camp is otherwise known as the fabulous “pink bubble.” Coming from a non-camper, this is not the camping I would normally think of. The word “glamping” is much more like it, and even then, I am always amazed the detail that goes into making sure 3-Day participants are made to feel welcome and comfortable all weekend.

Your pink tent will be your home away from home, and you’ll eat a yummy breakfast and dinner in the dining tent. My advice is to immerse yourself in the 3-Day campsite; it’s really part of your experience. Watch the camp show, visit 3-Day Main Street, and shower in the shower trucks. It’s a memorable experience like no other.

Just like on the route, you are fully supported and won’t want to leave this sweet bubble of love and kindness. Alas, Sunday will arrive, you’ll bid farewell to camp, pack up your belongings and be reunited with your gear at the Participant Finish Area.

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Closing Ceremony and the morning after…

For me, the last day of the 3-Day is bittersweet. Walking into the Closing Ceremony is indescribable. Since each participant has their own reason for participating in the 3-Day, each participant might have a different feeling when they take their final steps of the Victory Walk from the Participant Finish Area into the Closing Ceremony.

I always feel the walkers and crew of the 3-Day are part of a special group, bound together by their passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. I will never give up, and you will feel this drive and passion from the moment you register for your 3-Day journey, too!

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Debbie S. is More Than Pink — Meet a Survivor & New 3-Day Walker

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As our 2018 3-Day season draws closer and closer, we are welcoming past AVON 39 walkers into our 3-Day® family. We want to show them the 3-Day love, because they are a wonderful addition to our cause and they are More Than Pink®.

Debbie S., will also be a proud member of our survivor and those living with metastatic breast cancer community when she joins the San Diego 3-Day in November.

Debbie was officially declared cancer-free in 2005, and since then has been an active crusader for a cure for breast cancer, as well as a staunch supporter and inspiration for those undergoing their own treatment.

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She participated in her first AVON 39 while still bald from her own treatment, and has walked in six AVON 39’s since then. She has also spoken at a breast cancer charity event in Los Angeles, A Cause for Entertainment, and was featured in Avon’s commercial last year. To say she lives to be a part of the fight against breast cancer is an understatement.

“It is so important to keep walking and raising funds for research and awareness! This is what is going to ultimately help cure this disease! Everyone knows about the strides that organizations, such as Susan G. Komen and Avon, have made and I am often asked why other cancers don’t do the same things. My answer is always: They should, you should! Raising funds and awareness is the most important thing!”

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That is why Debbie knew she could not hang up her walking shoes in 2018. She had to keep going, and was excited to join the 3-Day family. Her excitement extends towards fundraising, which she says was one of the things that drew her to the 3-Day in the first place.

“I’m actually most excited about raising more money and walking with others who are doing it for the same reasons I am: a cure! I’m always excited to show everyone how you can beat breast cancer and persevere. Nothing can stop us if we are determined!”

She is determined, in fact, to raise $25,000 this year alone, and has already raised almost $3,000 in the first 24 hours after registering. Though she says she began her fundraising journey with “The mentality that the minimum was enough,” she soon realized that “It is never enough! With every walk, my goal is to beat my last walk!”

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How does she do it? With the same passion and exuberance that has stayed with her throughout her breast cancer journey. She starts via email, sending messages to everyone in her address book (whether she knows them or not!) as well as to any emails she can collect from friends and family. She begins emailing at least six months before her walk, also using social media to kickstart her efforts.

After that, she sends reminder emails to everyone who has not donated on the first of each month. As the event approaches, she will kick it up another notch.

“About two months before the walk, I will start sending it every two weeks. The last month, I will send it every week and eventually daily! I break them all down! They all give! I also upload my letter, with my story, to my personal page for the walk.”

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Simple, but effective, is her approach, and one that has shown great success in the past. This is not just how she approaches fundraising, but how she approaches life in general.

“Being a survivor means everything to me! It means that being strong and having a positive attitude goes a long way! It means I can assure others that they can survive too! Because I am proof!”

If you see Debbie on the 3-Day route in San Diego, say hello and share a hug! She is walking solo this year, but can’t wait to meet new friends and share her story and dream of a world without breast cancer.