Meet Team Princess Warriors from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

African American women in the U.S. are often diagnosed younger and with more aggressive breast cancer than their white counterparts. They are also often diagnosed at later stages when treatments are limited, costly and the prognosis is poor. And they die from breast cancer nearly 40% more than Caucasian women. These facts are staggering, and Susan G. Komen is working daily to reduce disparities to achieve breast health equity.

We are not doing this work alone. We are supported by 3-Dayers like those on Team Princess Warriors from Dallas/ Fort Worth. Sylvia, Yolanda and Felecia have collectively walked in the 3-Day for more than twenty years combined, participating in 3-Days across the country. They are best known in Dallas/Fort Worth and will also be joining us in Chicago this year, but their dedication extends far beyond the bounds of the 3-Day weekend.

They are breast cancer health advocates all year long. They take any opportunity they can to “educate women, especially women of color, and make them aware of how this disease affects African American women.” We are honored to have them in our 3-Day family and are so proud to share their story. Read on for more of their expertise and inspirational stories.

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What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?

Sylvia’s mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 46 years old. Unfortunately, she passed away from the horrible disease at only 48 years old. Her paternal great grandmother, paternal grandmother, and three of her dad’s sisters have all been diagnosed with breast cancer as well. That’s not to mention that three of her husband’s aunts, two of his cousins and their sister-in-law are also breast cancer survivors.

Yolanda and Felecia both have friends who have been diagnosed and are currently fighting this disease as well as loved ones who have succumbed to breast cancer.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?

Our favorite memory was standing in line to take pictures after Day 1 during our second year. We were standing behind John and Lisa Shiner. I immediately recognized him because he was one of the inspirational speakers at camp during Sylvia’s first year walking. His wife and my mom who passed from breast cancer were both named Martha. We laughed and cried and hugged and cried some more. His wife Lisa is such a sweetheart.

After talking with them, they invited us to walk with them the next year in Twin Cities, so we did! We walked together all three days and they invited us over to their beautiful home for dinner. This was just the beginning of our friendship, and we have made so many more like it over the years. 

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What are your top training tips for first-time walkers?

  • Make sure you invest in good socks and shoes.
  • Make sure you wear all clothing before the event to see how everything works for you.
  • Remember, this is a walk not a race.
  • Take time to enjoy the scenery and the wonderful people around you each day on the 3-Day. Listen to their stories, learn more about them, and enjoy each and every minute with your new group of forever friends.
  • Train, train, and TRAIN before the 3-Day.
  • Hydrate and take advantage of the pit stops and lunch.

As a tight team unit, what is your advice to help pass the time on training walks?

We talk about times in the Army. It’s bittersweet reminiscing about friends who have gone on before us and we always talk about the effort to get rid of this disease that impacts so many across all walks of life.

We all love music in general. If we had to pick a favorite song, it would be “Roar” by Katy Perry. The lyrics are suited for any fight you may be going through. Those diagnosed and fighting breast cancer, along with their family and friends, truly get knocked down sometimes, but dust themselves off and keep fighting. It shows the strength and willpower of those going through this journey and those left carrying the torch for family and friends we’ve lost to this disease.

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What does the word “commitment” mean to you?

Commitment is something that we have lived our entire adult lives honoring. We all made commitments collectively, over a combined 78 years, supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States by serving actively in the US Army. It’s definitely something we do not take lightly. 

We have also made a commitment because of our drive and compassion for those who have been affected and are battling breast cancer. As a team, we dedicate our time and resources to a part of something so much greater than ourselves. Although we try to touch many with our cause, even if we only touch a few, it’s worth it.

Especially given how breast cancer impacts the African American community, why is the 3-Day so important?

Understanding that African American women die from breast cancer nearly 40% more than Caucasian women is alarming. Early detection is key. The 3-Day is SO important to us because it gives us another opportunity to educate women, especially women of color, and make them aware of how this disease affects African American women. Speaking from experience, it’s both unfortunate and also a kind of blessing that you’re made aware of this disease when someone you love has been diagnosed. But often it’s too late to fight it.

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We try to do our part and continue to make others aware that breast care is truly important to their health. We are often stopped during the walks and asked, “Why so much pink?” We love it. It gives us another chance to provide information to someone who may be uninformed.

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?

We are truly walking billboards for breast cancer awareness. We are not only sporting our pink gear during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but all throughout the year. We always reach out to those we encounter, making them aware of our 60-mile journey to save lives. Sylvia hosts events at her home throughout the year and works with the local school to ensure information is provided to the staff during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walking 60 miles is an accomplishment; we try to use every opportunity to not only fundraise but educate those we meet daily.

What are you most excited about for 2020?

We are always excited about the opportunity to walk 60 miles in 3 days together. It gives our team another chance to spread breast cancer awareness and spend quality time together. We are excited about being in the city of Chicago this year as well! This is always a great opportunity to meet new people, be a part of their trials and triumphs, and provide words of encouragement to those who have gone through this ordeal or for loved ones currently going through it.

Join Team Princess Warriors at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day by registering to join us in 2020 NOW! You can also find more information on how breast cancer affects the African American community, and what Susan G. Komen is doing to help, on our website.

Meet Team Independent: A Family Affair on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

The 3-Day becomes like a family for many in our community, bringing people from all walks of life together in the fight for a world without breast cancer. Some even bring their own personal family and friends along with them to the 3-Day. When the 3-Day family becomes one with your own, magical and amazing memories are made.

If you need any inspiration to invite your family to join your 3-Day team this year, you can look no further than Melissa L. and Team Independent in Dallas/Fort Worth. Their team of family members and supporters is the perfect example of incorporating your own motivation and family love into your 3-Day journey.

Everyone from her daughter Alex and her husband David to nieces, her sister-in-law, and her nephew have all joined Melissa on Team Independent over the years. In fact, Alex has continued to walk while attending college, graduate school, and having multiple children. Melissa’s nephew Becket was a Youth Corps member who is looking forward to walking his first 3-Day this year. To say the 3-Day has become a family affair for Melissa is quite the understatement!

After years of walking and crewing with her family, Melissa is full of tips, tricks and memories to help you make the most of your own 3-Day experience. Whether you walk with friends, family or solo, she is a well of information. We’ll let her take it from here…

How did you first find your way to the 3-Day family?

I initially heard about the 3-Day back in 2004 on a radio commercial. I was five years from my diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer and my daughter Alex was in high school then.

However, we didn’t fully jump into the Pink Bubble until 2007. Alex was in college and my husband was our “walker stalker.” My husband is an avid cyclist and saw the Route Safety Crew riding their bikes, which got him interested. He jumped onto Route Safety in 2008! He enjoyed being part of the crew and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t joined the 3-Day crew yet, too. So, in 2010, I joined him on Route Safety with the provision that he would walk with us in 2011. I have to say that Route Safety was great fun, but it was so much harder than being a walker for me! So, David walked in 2011 for the first time and he has been a walker ever since!

We always walk in Dallas/Fort Worth. We love supporting our hometown and hosting out-of-town team members!

What are your tips for walking and participating with your own family?

  • Know everyone’s pace and capabilities and use the buddy system with teenagers. Empower everyone to stick to their pace and avoid injury both on training walks and on the event.
  • At the 3-Day, make a schedule to meet for meals or activities, so more experienced walkers can help and encourage the new walkers.
  • Make fun shirts and pink bling! Matchy-matchy is the way to go! Be “family proud.” 😊
  • Train together. Training walks are a great way to unplug and spend time together. It’s amazing how much you can learn about nieces and nephews when you leave electronics at home!

What are some of your best memories from the 3-Day?

Being a long-term part of the 3-Day family, I was asked to speak at the camp show in 2017 and David also spoke at the Opening Ceremony that year. We were both proud to take an active role in sharing our story with our pink family.

Then in 2018, my husband and I walked with our daughter and teenage nieces. Our nephew was on Youth Corps in the same year. It was great to experience the 3-Day through their fresh eyes. We held up on Day 3 so we could all cross the finish line together! We were so proud of those teenagers!

That year was eventful, too! In 2018 we were evacuated from camp because of a severe thunderstorm. Since David and I are avid backpackers, we secured our tent before vacating and after the storms passed, we jumped back in our tent and it was warm and dry. It was seriously so impressive to watch the Susan G. Komen and event staff manage the crew and walkers to keep us safe and then to get us back to sleep before we had to walk on Day 3. Well done everyone!

In general, though, the best memories come from the friends we have made walking thousands of miles on training walks and on event.

What does “commitment” mean to you?

Commitment means standing strong with our pink family of survivors, co-survivors and the loving and dedicated family and friends of those who continue to fight for those we have lost. Commitment means no matter what else life brings our way — death of parents, serious illnesses, welcoming our son-in-law and then welcoming grandsons — we keep putting one foot in front of the other and we keep raising awareness and money to find the CURE!

What are your 2020 3-Day plans?

2020 once again finds David and I walking in Dallas/Fort Worth. Our daughter, Alex, will be a 20-mile walker as she will be giving birth to her second son before the event this year! Our nephew Beckett will be a first-time 3-Day walker this year and our youngest twin nephews are going to apply for Youth Corps! I’ve challenged myself to raise $12,000 this year. It’s a personal bold goal, but I think I can do it! Nothing can stop us!

You can join Melissa and Team Independent in Dallas/Fort Worth in November, or the rest of our 3-Day family at our other 2020 cities by signing up on our website!

3-Day Love Letters: You Inspire Me

 

Thank you for your commitment! You are truly amazing. Together we will continue to make a huge impact.

Celebrate the month of love with us! Share the love and support the cause, send your community a piece of your heart in a 3-Day Love Letter by clicking HERE.

We crossed the finish line together! See some of our favorite finish line memories below.