Carolyn P.’s Heart is Filled with Generosity in 2021 | Word of the Year

Hope you’re having a wonderful February 3-Day family! After kicking off this series in January with Riley W. sharing why she chose GRATEFUL, today we’re honored to introduce our second “Word of the Year” writer, Carolyn P. Carolyn, a 13-time walker who will be walking the Chicago 3-Day in 2021, selected “Generosity” as her 2021 word of the year.

Tell me about your 3-Day experience—how many/where have you walked/crewed? 

I started Feet to Beat Breast Cancer with a small group in 2005. For each of the next 14 years, we built the team by encouraging friends and family members to join us for the Atlanta 3-Day. In 2019, we traveled to walk the San Diego 3-Day, and in 2021, our 40-member team will surpass our $1,000,000 fundraising milestone at the Chicago event!

What is your 2021 word of the year? 

Generosity

Why is that your word of the year? 

2021 is a time when people everywhere desperately need generosity in all forms. To me, someone showing generosity is happy to give time, energy, money, food, forgiveness, respect or kindness to people who need it—without asking anything in return. The positive impact of generosity may be difficult to measure, but anyone who has been on either side of a generous act would agree that more of it would dramatically improve our world.

Why do you participate in the 3-Day? 

The Feet to Beat Breast Cancer team motto speaks directly to why I participate. “In memory of loved ones lost; in honor of courageous survivors; in support of those fighting the battle; in hope for a future free from this disease. Side by side we walk, every stride, one step closer to a cure.” This plays out in our everyday life. I fondly remember two dear teammates who used to share the road with us, and I celebrate the survivor status of my mom, sister, and many dear friends. I am offering support to a family of a young mom with metastatic breast cancer, and I pray that we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in the research. 

What does the 3-Day family mean to you? 

I was asked this recently, and the first word that came to mind was “home.” I stumbled onto the Susan G. Komen 3-Day just following the birth of my two boys. For the past 15 years, I have had the honor and good fortune of sharing the experience with a growing team of men and women I honestly can’t imagine my life without. While some members of this world-class group I knew outside the 3-Day, many I would never have met—what I would have missed out on! For those I did know, being part of this community has strengthened our relationship. As if I need icing on my already fabulous Pink-Bubble Cake, in 2021, I get to enjoy all of this with two sisters, my youngest son, two nieces, and one nephew. It goes without saying that 3-Day crew, staff, local volunteers, and host city create a positive and supportive environment. It truly feels like “home.”

How does your word of the year connect to the 3-Day?

There’s a quote we use on our team page every year, and it expresses generosity perfectly. “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” —Nelson Henderson. We may never know the full impact with an act of kindness on the 3-Day, how sharing our story might inspire a stranger, or learn the name of the young woman who will get a life-saving mammogram because of the money we raised. But that’s not why we do these things. We are generous. We are happy to give time, energy, money, respect or kindness to people who need it—without asking anything in return.

If you could share a message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?

  • Be present. Listen. Feel every emotion that comes up along the 3-Day journey.
  • Be inclusive. Somebody along the way needs you. Be there. Don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone.
  • Be generous. Let the needs of others motivate you. Your generosity may just inspire others to give more of themselves, and there is something very satisfying about giving what you can to help someone else.
  • Be appreciative. Appreciate your supporters. With all the demands on their hard-earned dollars, it is an honor to have their support. Appreciate your fellow walkers and crew, staff, local volunteers, and the cheering crowds. They are helping make this a life-changing experience.
  • Have fun. Laugh at yourself, dance at the Pit Stops, wear a crazy costume, celebrate making it up that hill, high-five the police officers, relish that graham cracker PB&J, and find the joy of a porta-john (ok, that’s a stretch).

Carolyn, thanks so much for your generosity and for giving you whole heart to your 3-Day family. Keep living your chosen word of the year, and next month, we’ll introduce a new person and share their word, why they chose it, and learn about their Komen 3-Day journey along the way.

Other Word of the Year Blog Posts

Riley W. Chooses To Walk Into 2021 Being GRATEFUL | Word of the Year

Riley W. Chooses To Walk Into 2021 Being GRATEFUL | Word of the Year

During the first week of 2021, we asked you to pick a “Word of the Year”. (If you missed it, check out the blog post here.) To guide us through this special year, we’ve selected twelve members of the 3-Day family to share their 2021 Word of the Year. Each month, we’ll introduce a new person and share their word, why they chose it, and learn about their Komen 3-Day journey along the way.

First up, we’re excited to learn why Riley W., a nine-time walker who will be walking the San Diego 3-Day in 2021, chose “grateful” as her 2021 word of the year.

Tell us about your 3-Day experience.

I walked my first 3-Day with my sister in 2010. I have walked every year since 2012 for her!

What is your 2021 word of the year?

GRATEFUL

Why is that your word of the year?

I think it’s very easy for us to forget the big picture and all we have. I believe if I wake up breathing, it is a good day. Everything else, God can handle. But we’re all human, so of course we always are thinking ahead or about things we want to change. 2020 taught me a lot. One, slow down! Two, make sure to really appreciate every little and big moment. Three, it also taught me to buy stock in Charmin…which I was very, very grateful for many times.  

Why do you participate in the 3-Day?

I lost my only sister, Kathi, to triple negative breast cancer.

I also lost my grandmother.

I lost my “second mom” Toni, also to triple negative less than two years after my sister.

My aunt and her daughter (my cousin) are both in remission.

We need to stop this.

Before my sister left, I promised her that I would not stop walking and raising money until there was a cure. I intend to keep that promise and not only raise money but also as much awareness as I possibly can.

What does the 3-Day community mean to you?

Family. Love. Support. Understanding. The friends I have met through the 3-Day are literally family to me. I am blessed to have met so many wonderful people!

How does your word of the year connect to the 3-Day?

Like I said above, these people are amazing. They are truly family. They understand everything I’ve been through, and they don’t care if I just want to sit and cry or scream or just give them a hug. We’re all connected to one another, and for that I am SO VERY GRATEFUL!

If you could share a message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?

First, I missed everyone so much in 2020!

Second, we can’t stop. When we’re in the 57th mile out of 60, when we’re tired of fundraising year after year, or even when we don’t want to remind friends, family or acquaintances to get a mammogram. WE. CAN’T. STOP. Not until there is a cure out there. And I believe there is!

I hate that we all have to continue doing this, but we do. We are all still here, and we are making a difference.

This January, we want to know: What are you GRATEFUL for? Check back next month for the next blog post in our “Word of the Year” series.

A First-Time Michigan 3-Day Walker Shares Her Dad’s Story

“As a kid and even now an adult, I think I’ve always seen my father as invincible; like nothing could stop him,” said Bridgette, a first-time Michigan 3-Day walker.  “He’s super handy and can fix just about anything around the house (although the joke in the family is that it might lean a little to left when’s done with it).  He’s hard working and always ready to lend a hand.  Even as an adult, he checks in on me as like I am still his little daughter.  I love my dad, and I know he loves me,” she said. That love is just one of the reasons she’ll be taking on the Michigan 3-Day this year; and the other is that Bridgette’s dad is a breast cancer survivor.

“It was a lucky cyst. That’s what the doctors told my dad.” In 2016, he had been having odd chest pain, and felt around his chest to find a lump. A biopsy confirmed it was benign, and that there was no cause for concern. Right before the procedure to drain the cyst, the doctors did one more scan – and this time, there was a new dark spot. A biopsy of this new dark area confirmed that he had breast cancer.

They scheduled a mastectomy of the left breast, but there was no radiation therapy and no chemotherapy. “One complete mastectomy of the left breast later, my dad is a survivor of breast cancer. But without the cyst, they would not have found the breast cancer so early.”

Bridgette had participated in a Komen 5k and donated to friends who were walking the 3-Day, but this year, she’s walking for the first time in Michigan. Bridgette knew men could get breast cancer, but she never knew of one who had. “However, since I’ve been raising funds for the 3-Day, I have learned of another male to have breast cancer (he also survived after a mastectomy).” Male breast cancer, while rare, is a reality. According to Komen.org, “In 2018, it’s estimated that among men in the U.S., there will be 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer (includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers).”

An active man, Bridgette’s dad works in the church as a lay leader, and helped to start the church’s food bank. He’s an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, and an Advisor for his chapter of the Order of the Arrow. He loves sports and going to games, and is a Masonic lodge secretary. It’s safe to say Bridgette’s dad is always busy, and that survivorship was in his blood as a previous skin cancer and prostate cancer survivor, too.

But despite her dad’s now clean bill of health, Bridgette wants more justice in the fight against breast cancer. “What I can’t get out of my mind is that society begins to accept that losing a breast is normal,” she said.  “It’s NOT! It’s gone.  But so is part of your body.  My dad won’t go swimming without a shirt now.  He won’t even work around the house without a shirt on.  Breast cancer doesn’t just leave just a physical scar, it leaves an emotional one.  Not only do I hope to raise awareness by walking, I hopes the funds I raise will find a better cure than mastectomy,” she said.

As a working mom, a house fixer-upper, volunteer with the Jaycees and a treasurer of the Michigan JCI Senate, Bridgette also keeps busy, but follows her passion, “to make a difference – in the world or in someone’s life.” Bridgette, we’re pretty sure that just like your Dad, you will.

Help spread awareness of male breast cancer today. While it’s rare, it is real. For more resources on male breast cancer, visit Komen.org.