Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pink Package Winners!

We have some winners!!!
You all did so great doing "pink" things!  I couldn't choose just one.  So I choose the wimpy way out and let the computer pick the winners for me:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
10 8 5 6 1
Timestamp: 2009-11-03 20:45:52 UTC

That means that are lucky winners are: Elizabeth, Lindsay, Linda, Faren, and Meghan!  (Elizabeth, I need your contact info so I can send you your prize!)  I will be contacting the rest of you through facebook or twitter this week.  Congratulations, and thanks for spreading the word and awareness!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Talk to me Tuesday (Melanie Sheridan)

Oh my gosh. So, apparently, if you walk the whole 60 miles, your feet might get a little swollen. Or a lot swollen. So swollen, in fact, that you can't put on anything but flip flops for a week! I guess that was the upside to not being able to do all of the miles last year, huh?

And speaking of not being able to do all 60 miles: Hey, Philly - YOU ROCK! You all couldn't do the whole route, but man did you show some brotherly love! Congratulations!

Anyway, now that I am thourogly recovered from the walk (well enough to get a pedicure soon) it's time to feature another 3-day-er! This time we get to hear from Melanie Sheridan. Melanie is a fellow 3-day online ambassador, posting at her fantastic blog: Mel, A Dramatic Mommy.
Last year, Melanie volunteered during the walk, while her mother was a walker. This year, she is joining her mom, a 9-time participant, to walk in the San Diego 3-day.

Q1: Why did you join the 3-day?

Melanie says:
My mom decided to do the 3-Day back in 2000. I thought she was crazy! But, as she became more involved, so did I. I've spent the last few years cheering her on all weekend long. Last year, I volunteered and got to hand out the T-shirts and roses as the walkers crossed the finish line. It was amazing! Now that I'm a stay at home mom, I decided this was my year to move from the sidelines to participant.

Every year that I've cheered and supported the walkers, I've seen so many people walking in honor of someone they've lost. I see families on the sidelines holding signs that read, "thank you." This year I decided I wanted to do more than cheer. I literally wanted to walk the walk.

This is a cause that has become very important to me, especially after losing my Godmother to breast cancer.

Melanie, cheering on the walkers!

Q2: Will you describe some of you 3-day experience for us?

Melanie says:
Last year, when I volunteered, there were so many touching moments. I remember when one team crossed the finish they all waited for one woman to get her pink survivor shirt and cheered for her as she held it up. One minute she was high-fiving and laughing, the next she was sobbing and everyone gathered in a group hug. I also remember one woman taking some of the candy and gum I was handing out. Because of the way she was dressed, I thought she was someoneon the walk route, taking advantage of all the free stuff. I wondered if she was homeless. The next day, as I handed out shirts, they announced that the last walker was headed in. It was her.

My mom says for her, the walk is like a religious experience. Being there, feeling the energy, I can see her point. I laugh and cry every single year. I definitely think the walk is something everyone should experience, either as a walker, crew or volunteer.

Melanie and her mom, in front of the remembrance tents.

Q3: How have you contributed to the cause?

Melanie says:
I’ve made it a point to take my son with me when I’ve been cheering. He knows a little about what breast cancer is and why people are walking. Spending that time with him has been amazing. He’s learning empathy, the spirit of giving and giving back to the community.

Melanie's son passing out goodies for walkers - so cute!

Q4: What is your best training advice?

Melanie says:
Don’t push yourself. Follow the training guidelines but realize they’re only a suggestion. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t follow it to the letter.

Q5: What is your best fundraising advice?

Melanie says:
Be a pest! I don’t like to ask for help so I haven’t been as vocal about the fundraising as I should be. This isn’t about me. Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask everyone for donations.

Alright, folks - do Melanie a favor, as a thanks for her 3-day posts, and give the lady a donation! Any little bit helps, I'm sure she would love your help so that she can, as she says, "Walk the Walk!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DC 3-Day Top 10!

Here is my Washington, DC 2009 3-Day top ten "Things I'm Thankful For" list!

10. I'm thankful for these bright pink balloons that introduce you to the 3-day spirit at Opening Ceremonies. I definitely heeded the advice and took my time while savoring the experience.

9. I'm thankful the bright pink tent protected us from the wind and the rain. (We'll work on the cold next year!)

8. I'm thankful for friends who not only cheer me on, but stand in the rain on a Bethesda street corner to cheer on all the other walkers too! (The other side of my Meghan's sign had a more generic thank you to all walkers. And her and her husband, Gabe, cheered for you in pink!)

7. I'm so thankful for new friends (like Amy) who can, literally, pull you through! Ms. Ohio from Ms. America's Tata's really helped me get to the finish.

6. I'm thankful for all the love. For the people showing other people - almost strangers - that they care. It renews your faith in mankind.

5. I'm thankful for opening and closing ceremonies. They are incredibly inspiring and bookend all that 3-Day goodness in the perfect way.

4. I'm thankful for survivors. They give you courage and motivation and determination when you thought you had none left. (In case you didn't know, at closing we all lift one shoe to salute the survivors who did the hard work and participated in this event with us.)


3. I'm thankful for DC! These were only two shots at closing of the Lincoln and the Washington Monument - we had tons of other fantastic views. The Capital building, the Potomac River, The White House - all of it was great!


2. I'm thankful for crew! It helps you forget about your aching bones and painful blisters when you see a man in a kilt dancing on a motorcycle, or a girl with a cone on her head, or a man cheering to save second base. Yes, it really really helps!

I'm thankful I'm done! Okay, okay, I'm only kidding.

My real #1 is thanks to all of you. My supporters and donators. I couldn't have made it without you! DC raised over 5.5 million to fight breast cancer - and you were a huge part of that. (And a big shout out to my family who were invaluable in my 3-day pursuit. I love you all!)

See you next year! 2010, baby!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Alverna Bresette)

I'm so excited, I can hardly contain myself! The DC walk - MY walk - is this weekend!!! I am in the midst of packing and worrying and gearing up, and I just can't wait. I have to thank so many of you - family, friends, and well-wishers - for helping me get to my goal!

Meanwhile, there are plenty of walkers - just like my 3-day friend, Alverna Bresette - who need your help to make it to goal. These walkers desperatly want to participate in their walks in the coming weeks, but they need your help. Please read Alverna's interview, and look her up on the 3-day website if you can help!

Q1: What is your connection to Breast Cancer?

Alverna says:
I am a 6 year survivor. My cancer was found early and was very small. Neither I, nor the doctors, could feel it. I was fortunate and luck was on my side. Through this experience I have talked people into having mammograms, just to be safe. Hopefully, I have gotten across to my daughter to fight for something you believe in.

I just recently found out my grandmother had died of breast cancer in 1940. My cousin was diagnosed last year, and I have lost friends to the disease.

Q2: Tell us about your 3-day experience.

Alverna says:
I was a walker in San Diego '06, San Diego '07, Washington DC '08, and will walk in San Diego '09. I think the first year was exciting, maybe because it was new. That year, my daughter and I had both seen it advertised, then discussed it, and decided it would be a great contribution to the cause. The support was unbelievable. I was amazed at the people gathered to cheer you on while you were walking. The 3Day family itself is hard to beat, crew, fellow walkers, support, etc. Always a kind word.

Alverna and her daughter, all dressed in pink!

Q3: What have you learned from the 3-day and why do you keep coming back?

Alverna says:
I've learned a lot. How many people have been affected by this disease. How much can be raised if everyone puts forth some effort in something they believe in. How I can really do something if I set my mind to it. A personal satisfaction, that I did it! To me the 3Day is addictive...I walk because I can. Each person, in their heart, knows what it is that they want to do for something. If this is what you believe in, then by all means, do it.

Alverna and her beautiful training buddies!

Q4: What is your best fundraising and/or training advice?

Alverna says:
For fundraising, put your heart into it and don't be afraid to ask. All they can say is no.

For training, I want to give credit to my husband and my 2 Black Russian Terriers. Without them I would not have the will power to get out and train. I mostly walk as I am out in a very small community in a National Forest. My husband knows just the right amount to "push" me...come on, you can do it. And of course the dogs are always up to the task!

Alverna supports fellow walkers (she supported me last year and this year) and I would love it if you all could pay her back the favor! She is a survivor, to be sure. Thank you, Alverna.

To the rest of my fellow DC walkers - LETS DO THIS!!!

PS - make sure you check out the giveaway if you haven't yet! Just for spreading breast cancer awareness this month, we are giving away 5 pink goodie-filled packages!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hey, you! There is a giveaway at the end of this post! Keep reading!

One in Eight women will get breast cancer sometime in their lifetime.
***1 in 8***
Isn't that ridiculous? Can you pick one of eight of the women you know to get it? Do you already know several ones who do? It needs to stop.

Every day we are getting closer to a cure. Now is a perfect time to lend your support to this cause! And if you do, there might be something in it (other than karma, and that gooey feeling you get inside when you do something awesome) for you. Keep reading....

Need an idea?
  • Go to Ask.com and make a pink ribbon tribute to a loved one.
  • Go to Yahoo.com and click on the pink ribbon. There you can update your pink ribbon status. For each person that does so in October, Yahoo! will donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to help uninsured women get free mammograms.
  • Go to the www.breastcancer.org or to www.komen.org or to www.nationalbreastcancer.org to learn about the disease and empower your self or those around you. Learn your risks and how to minimize them.
  • Remind the people in your life to check themselves. Update your facebook status, send a tweet, call, text, or email - just tell them to feel their boobies!
  • Go shopping! You will be hard pressed to go into the grocery store and not find a product that has a pink ribbon on it. In some cases, a portion of your purchasing money will go to the cause, in others the company has already donated a set amount. Either way, these companies are spreading the word - lend them their support to show you appreciate it!
  • Find a 3-day walker (like me) to get to goal! Not only are you helping find a cure, but your making someone's day!
  • Have a high risk of breast cancer in your family? Be proactive - be Bright Pink.
  • If you can't lend your money - lend your time. Find out where the closest 3-day walk is and go cheer those brave people on! Make a sign to hang on the route. Get in a costume. Pass out candy or popsicles. We will love you for it! (And if you can't do it now, there is always time to do it later in the year during another walk for the cure or a race for the cure.)
  • Any time of the year you can go to your local Komen Affiliate to help spread the word in your community.
  • Just make a click of your mouse at Care2 to help find a cure.
  • Like to ride a bike? Join the Hershey's Tour De Pink to raise funds for breast cancer while your working out.
  • Become a member of the Army of Women and partner with researchers to help move breast cancer beyond the cure.
  • Go to the Health Key to find a host of other breast cancer fighting opportunities.
  • Eat chocolate - M&M's can cure just about anything, right?
So pick something - anything related to raising awareness, and do it. Now would be great, but I'll give you until the end of October since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

To spice it up a little, I'm turning this into a contest. Do anything to support breast cancer awareness and leave a comment below. At the end of October, I will check back and pick 5 of my favorite posts to give a token of my appreciation - a little pink ribbon package full of pink goodies!

So get to curing people!

Edit: I decided to add other opportunities when then are pointed out to me...
  • Belong to twitter? Help @FFanatics Tackle Breast Cancer just by following them! Learn How here.
  • Become a jumper at Spirit Jump and send a note to someone battling cancer.
  • Write a blog post or visit another! Here is the info for the How Do YOU Pink blog hop!

    MckLinky Blog Hop

Remember any contribution will be in the running for the prize - you just have to comment!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Dusty Showers)

I'm back! Hope you didn't miss me on my hiatus, but life got a little hectic the last few weeks! Of course, you all know how that goes - regular life (mommy, wife, worker, friend, etc) combined with training and fundraising - it gets to be a lot sometimes! I hear, while I was gone, that Seattle had an awesome walk! Way to go Seattle!

But, now that the DC 3-day is less than 2 weeks away, I'm 3-day obsessed! I think just about all my friends and family must be done hearing about it by now, but I can't stop myself!

To go along with that "can't stop the 3-day" feeling, I present you with an interview from a wonderful walker a lot of you probably have heard of: Dusty Showers! You might have seen him around - it's hard to miss a man in a bright pink bra!

Dusty, when not on the job catching creepy creatures, is all 3-day, all the time! He is a first time walker (Can you believe that? I was shocked!) but he has been helping walkers cross the finish line for a while now. He has crewed in tampa for 4 years and this year he is going the distance - literally - to walk the 60 miles! I think I could fill up volumes telling all of Dusty's stories (you should really follow him on facebook, it's a hoot) but I'll stick to my standard format, to be fair. If you want to learn more, visit his site, I'm With Dusty. Part of this interview was taken from some things that has Dusty written about his journey, some right from a direct interview.

One of the few pics of Dusty with out his bra! Kidding!

Q1: What is your connection to breast cancer - your reason for participating in the 3-day?

Dusty says:
I am asked quite often why I am involved in the 3-day. My reason is not as touching as many. I am one of the lucky ones. I have not lost anyone close to me. I cannot put a face on a shirt, a lost friend, a mother gone . . . a wife or a daughter lost.

About 5 years ago my mother-in-law, Nancy, took on breast cancer, face to face. She took the news, shared it with her soul mate . . . and made a decision that it was merely an obstacle placed in her path and that it would be overcome. She began her treatments, gave part ofher body and locks, and set an example with firm resolve.

Then, 6 weeks before the 2008 3-day, Christy (my good friend, and ex-wife) told me that she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. How could this be? Does it know who I am? I put on a #*$!% bra every year and act like an idiot. This cannot hit so close to me! I was angry, I was scared . . . and I was proud of Christy. I had to remember who I was. I am the guy that tells you that you can do it when doubt tells you different. It only took Christy a short time to come to the conclusion that she had a lot of years left and two daughters to raise. Head on . . . she did it.

Got to love a man in a pink bra, pink cowboy hat, and pink crocs. And an armadillo!

Q2: What have you learned or gained form the 3-day?

Dusty says:
When all in my life seemed to dissolve . . . the 3-Day, as strange as it sounds, began to fill in the void. I always thought I should do more charity work but was never really interested and really only did it because I thought "I should." Now, it is not charity work, it is what I love, it is what I go to when I am down or a bit lost. My life may not have everything materially, but I seem to have way more of what I really need. How can I be involved in such a thing and not be so grateful for all I have? I have been inspired by so many of my 3-day friends.
I would like to think I have found my way now. I am happy, my life has direction.

What Dusty does in his "spare" time - but notice, he still has 3-Day spirit!

Q3: What is your best fundraising advice?

Dusty says:
My best tip is, whatever you do, do it well. You need to work whatever you do. You can't just mail or email once. You need to send it multiple times. If you are doing an event, promote it. Ask your friends to promote it. During the event, don't be afraid to ask for money; do 50/50's, raffles, and auctions.

The best advice, though, is to be kind to everyone. You never know who is going through their own battle. And you never know how you can touch that person's life, or how they may touch yours.

Too good of a photo op!

Q4: What is your best training advice?

Dusty says:
Don't lose sight of the fact that the 3-Day will change your life whether you walk the entire 60 miles or not. The only person that will care if you walk the entire 60 is you. Train as much as you can, when the day is here don't stress over not training enough; just show up and experience everything you can. Understand that the journey doesn't start when you show up to Opening Ceremonies. It started when you decided to do the 3-Day . . . at that point miracles started to happen.

So that's Dusty. Just a boy who loves creepy crawlers, boobs, and you. :)

Go get em' San Fran!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Karen Shoemaker)

Okay guys - I'm in a different state, enjoying the last days of summer - but since I love you so much (and the 3-Day) I will post another walker interview! Up to bat is Karen Shoemaker, a two time Tampa walker. She will walk in Tampa for a third time at the end of October.

Karen at the 2008 3-Day

Q1: What is your connection to Breast Cancer?

Karen says:
I originally started walking for my aunt, who, at the time, was a 5 year survivor. Unfortunately, her cancer spread to her bones and brain this past June and she passed away on July 4. The day after I signed up to do the 2007 event, my other aunt was diagnosed. She is now a 2-year survivor!

Karen's team wore "Super K" flags to honor a team mate

Q2: Can you describe some of your 3-Day experiences for us?

Karen says:
My first 3-Day experience was not at all what I expected. I had pored through all of the information I could find on it, and it's something that just can't be adequately described by reading about it. Our first night was stormy so we were relocated to a parking garage, but the rest of the event went off without a hitch. I came away with some pretty sore feet but nothing too bad.

The second year was WONDERFUL. I was asked to carry the flag honoring my aunt in the ceremonies and again was in awe. By the second year, I knew a lot of people and it was nice to reconnect with them. The energy on event is fantastic and I love the feeling of accomplishment that each person who participates in the event, whether walker or crew, comes away with. My most poignant memory is from 2007, where this bald little lady in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank was sitting by the side of the road with a simple sign saying, "Thank You". It still makes me tear up thinking about it. The BEST parts are the cheering stations and I hadn't realized that the first year- they are so helpful in getting you a bit further than you thought you could go.

Karen (front row, second from right) and her team at the finish line!

Q3: Why do you keep coming back to do walk?

Karen says:
I love the energy and excitement, I love the kindness that is shown to others, and I love the fact that I feel like I'm making a difference.

Q4: What have you learned from your experience on the walk?

Karen says:
I've learned that I CAN use a port-a-potty! The most important thing that I have learned, after coming into this a bit skeptical about raising the money, is how KIND people can be, and how generous they are after they find out what you are doing.

Q5: What advice do you have for new walkers?

Karen says:
Enjoy every step! This event has the potential to change your life. Not just the event itself but the training, the fundraising, bonding with your team and finding new friends. It is just amazing.

Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your insight with us. We wish you the best of luck in your training and on your walk!

Now, we have to say...
Good luck, Denver!
And good luck to LeAnne, Shannon, and Sandy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (LeAnne Bright)

How did it go, Michigan? Did you rock it? I'm sure you did. I realized (a bit too late) that my husband was only *miles* down the street from you all on Friday while at a wedding! I gave him strict orders to honk at anything pink when he was traveling to the airport!

Okay, ladies and gents, on with our next interviewee! LeAnne Bright is a two time walker AND two time crewer. (Yes, "crewer" is a new word in my 3-Day dictionary. Deal with it.) This year, she adds Denver to her walker list, and Atlanta to her crew list. She has a great
personal website you can visit to read about her past walks and get a little inspiration!

LeAnne (in the middle) on her fist walk in '06

Q1: Why did you join the 3-Day?

LeAnne says:

I had done many walks in the past for MS and March of Dimes and coming home from work in July of 2005 I heard the 3 Day commercial on the car radio and knew I had to do this walk in Memory of my grandmother. I signed up with 3 months before the walk and was able to not only meet the $2100 minimum, but beat it by $400. Since 2005, I participate each year in the Breast Cancer 3 Day event to honor the memory of Leah Young (my grandmother). She was a strong woman, taken by breast cancer at the age of 45 when my mother was teen.

Q2: Describe some of your 3-Day experiences.

LeAnne says:
Let's see, in 2005 (my first walk) I came home with the feeling that the 3 day was the hardest, yet most fulfilling, spiritual weekend that I had ever experienced! Between the emotional highs of the cheering sections, the pain and agony of the blisters, tender ankle...Not knowing if I had the strength to carry on.....I met so many wonderful women and men(walkers, crew, survivors), learning the reasons for their journey..... its an experience that is really hard to put in words with all of the different emotions that run through you during the course of 3 days. Let's put it this way - two days after coming home, still unable to walk without a limp, in the process of losing my left big toenail and two blisters the size of silver dollars on each foot healing - I signed up to do the walk again for 2006!!!!

Crewing in pink hair!

Q3: Do you have any fundraising tips?

LeAnne says:

I don't work for a large company, or even have a large "network of friends/family" ...I've signed up each year as a "lone" participant and the biggest tip I can give for fundraising is "Don't be afraid to ask!! All they can say is "No".

(And, I wanted to add that LeAnne has awesome pink ribbon gear on her site, and came up with a great idea to let her supporters "Adopt A Mile.")

This is one of the shirts you can get from LeAnne!

Q4: Why do you keep coming back to do more walks?

LeAnne says:

I keep coming back because I want to make a difference..I'm a "small part" of the 3 day, but, with all of our "small parts" we can make a "huge" difference. As long as my body allows me, I will continue to participate with the 3 Day event either as a crew member or as a walker.

So that's all from LeAnne. I have to admit, I really wanted to get this post out today because LeAnne walks this Friday -- and she could really use your support. Please check out her website to learn how you can help her out! (There *might* be an MP3 player in it for you!)

Before I forget,
Hey, Twin Cities, tear it up!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Shannon Davis)

Howdy, everyone!

So, we have done Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland! And I have seen some great pics up on facebook and some awesome recaps like the ones here, here, and here. (If you have a blog post recap, please feel free to add you link in the comments for us to view!) It is getting me really excited for my walk, and there are still 3 more cities that will surely finish up August with a bang!

Today I have an interview from Shannon Davis. She is an incredible woman, with incredible perseverance and determination. Want proof? Even the media has picked up on her story! She walks in Denver at the end of August.

Wow, Shannon is looking great! This is after loosing 189 pounds!

Q1: What is your connection to breast cancer?

Shannon says:
My connection to breast cancer is my Mom is a survivor. She was diagnosed in 1991, and again in 1996, and is now cancer free. On top of that, I took time to really take care of her and my family. But, I lost track of me, who I am, who I wanted to be. I let myself go, and I ended up weighing 525 pounds. I started to feel terrible, feeling my heart pound, and not being able to really walk. I was working and sitting that is about it. I saw a story on breast cancer, and realized that not only am I high risk because of my Mom. But, also because of my weight. I had to do something.. AND why not cap it off by doing something big. At first I couldn't walk a quarter mile. I have now walked 18 on my best day!

This is Shannon's "before" picture.

Q2: As a first time 3-Day walker, what is the best part of your experience so far?

Shannon says:
Meeting my 3day sisters and brothers online. From across the US!! We all have incredible stories, we all have something to share and say.. They have taught me so much about what this walk means... What it is to be apart of this walk. Lastly they have taught me that I have found my family I had been looking for. I haven't met a walker that I didn't just find a spot for in my heart.

The 3-Day is more than a walk. You join a group of people who will do anything for you. They will cheer you when you are at the lowest. They will be your most trusted advisors. Most importantly they will become a part of your life forever. Their stories become a part of who you are. I haven't even walked yet, and I can tell you the people I have met in person and online will be in my life for the rest of my life.

An amazing table Shannon and her team set up at a fundraiser.

Q3: What has this experience taught you?

Shannon says:
I have learned so much about myself. I am a strong woman, who can make amazing and incredible things happen. One step at a time, I am changing who I am, my life, and in the process I am impacting the lives of women around the world. The impact and feeling of that statement alone... WOW!!!! Most importantly KNOW YOU RISK FACTORS! Learn how you can change them or better your own odds.

She couldn't walk 100 yards, now she can't sit still!

Q4: How have you made an impact?

Shannon says:
My impact would have to be on my niece. I see her and know she is walking down a road that has made me very heavy. She sits and watches TV and doesn't move around much at 10. She'll do anything to help someone. But, when she doesn't have that she just sits. I have taken her on many walks. She wants to be a 3day walker, and she wants to keep moving. Lastly, I got press about my weight loss. TONS of people have told me I have inspired them to move. If I can change my life anyone can.

There is part of Shannon's story. If you want to learn more about her story, make sure you check out the article that was in the news. Thanks for the fantastic dose of inspiration, Shannon! Enjoy your walk...you will be forever addicted!

Oh, one more thing...
Good luck, Michigan!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Sandy Roberts)

It is late Tuesday night here in DC (well, technically super early on Wednesday, but I'm still up, so it doesn't count.) We are slowly creeping closer to our walk date, but Cleveland and Boston have already done their 60 miles and raised tons of money! Chicago is up next, so if you are in Chi-town, get out your pink boa's and get out to cheer for those walkers!

Okay, Now, on to our interview! It comes from one of my new facebook 3 Day friends, Sandy Roberts. Sandy walked in Dallas last year and is walking in Denver at the end of this month. Her team is named Sisters Walking 60, as she walks with her sister who is a cancer survivor.

Sandy (right) with her sister, Rita, at a pit stop

Question 1: What is your connection to breast cancer?
Sandy says:
My sister, who is also my team mate, is a 9 year survivor. When our mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer 2 years ago' Rita decided she wanted to do the 3day walk in honor of mom and also in honor of Rita being a Breast Cancer Survivor. She asked me to join her and I did not hesitate to say "yes".

We chose Dallas as our walk site in 2008 in hopes that mom would be at the finish line to cheer us in. As fate would have it mom's cancer returned just 4 weeks prior to the walk and she was undergoing treatment and was too weak to be at the finish line in body but she was certainly there in spirit. Mom is once again in remission and we pray it will be a long remission this time, her first one was 14 months long.

Sandy walking across the finish line!

Question 2: Can you tell us a little about you 3 Day experience?
Sandy says:
We met some of the nicest people. Whenever we would see a 3day walker walking alone my sister and I would step along side of them and ask them their story. We met a man who was walking in honor of his wife who had died 5 years earlier from Breast Cancer, he walks in her memory. He has a 14 year old son who he hopes will join him in the walk one day.

There was a woman from Oklahoma City who was doing the walk and she was red tagged by medical on day one and the only way she could complete the walk was from a wheelchair, she was in the fighting breast cancer and was in the fight of her life. She died 3 days following the completion of the 2008 walk and left a young son and husband behind. It was her wish to do the walk, it was the memory she wanted to leave, she never gave up the fight. She actually got to push her wheelchair across the finish line with a medical person by her side, what a tribute she was to this cause.

Rita and Sandy give hi-fives to finishing walkers

Question 3: What have you learned from your 3 Day experience?
Sandy says:
I learned from all the stories I heard and all the people I met that the walk is not about me walking, it is about the lives this disease affects, because when a person is diagnosed it affects not only them but their families and friends. When one person gets cancer an entire family gets it.

Walking, walking, walking. All in 3 days work!

Question 4: What has been your contribution to the cause?
Sandy says:
I hope I am making a difference by getting the word out there. Because of walks like the Susan G. Komen 3day, great strides are being made towards finding a cure. Because of early diagnosis, free mammograms, and just plain ole awareness, Breast Cancer is no longer a death sentence like it was some 20 years ago. There are now more survivors than ever, treatments are better with less side effects and women are no longer ashamed to say they have breast cancer. I can remember when you whispered those words. I hope, I make a difference by telling women to get yearly exams and to listen to their bodies and if a doctor does not pay attention to what you are saying, get a new doctor.

Thanks so much, Sandy! I am so happy to have "met" you via facebook and had the chance to witness your great spirit and devotion. You rock!

Alright....you know what I'm gonna say....

Blow them away, Chicago!
(sorry for the punny Windy City reference, but it had to be done.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Kathy Giller)

Well, I'm getting closer on writing this on the right day! (One day off instead of two this time.) Does this make me the most horrible blogger ever? I hope my content and the stories of these wonderful women and men make up for it!

Before we begin, I'm sending my big Congrats to all of you Boston participants! You made it!

Now, today I have an interview from Kathy Giller, part of the awesome Breast Man Walking team. Kathy is married to Lee Giller, a male breast cancer survivor. If you walked in DC last year (or Phoenix or Clevland) then you saw Lee. In DC I was feet away from him as he stood in the survivors circle, carrying one of those giant pink banners. And that is when my eyes were opened to the fact that men DO get breast cancer.

Kathy and Lee in the 2008 DC 3-Day

Question 1: What is your connection to breast cancer?
Kathy says:

My husband, Lee, was diagnosed with Stage ll breast cancer at the age of 48, just four years ago. As with women of a similar diagnosis, he underwent a mastectomy, 4 months of chemo, and 8 weeks of radiation. He was on Arimidex for about a year and then switched to Tamoxifen because there are fewer reported side effects. He will continue to take the medication for a total of 5 years. He goes every 4 months for clinical breast exams, has yearly mammograms, and MRI's.

Since his initial diagnosis, we learned that Lee carries the BRCA 1 gene mutation. This is more common in people of Jewish heritage and puts our children at a 50% chance of inheriting the same mutation. So far, only one of our children has opted be genetically tested and does in fact carry the same gene. This means that her risk of developing breast cancer is increased by 87% and her risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 65%. After learning this, she at the very young age of 25 now has annual mammograms, MRIs, and clinical breast exams every 6 months.

Kathy, Lee, and their daughter and son, walking the walk!

Question 2: Can you tell us a little about your 3-Day experience? (Kathy, and Lee, qualify as 3-Day experts with 2 walks in Boston, 2 in San Diego, 2 in Cleveland, 1 in DC, and 1 in Phoenix all under their belts. And they are adding 3 more this year!)
Kathy says:
I would liken the 3-Day to having a baby. The training is like the pregnancy. You are filled with anticipation, enthusiasm, and some anxiety. You feel good some days, not so great others but you know the big moment is coming regardless. The actual Walk is like being in labor. All of your training (LaMaze classes) has paid off but it definitely gets harder the longer you walk. You might feel tired and sore but you keep going. And then the baby arrives! Such a blessing and intense love! This is how being part of Closing Ceremonies felt. You are exhausted from the experience but are enveloped with such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing the journey was worth every step. And then when it's all over, you forget the pain and sign up to do it again - and again! Such is the 3-Day Family!

Question 3: What has been your best contribution to the cause?
Kathy says:

Certainly, we are very proud of the money we have raised so far. In fact, this year, I have the honor of being the top fundraiser for the Cleveland event. But as important as the dollars is the awareness. We have met so many people who do not know that men can get breast cancer. Several gentlemen have told us that after hearing about Lee's experience, they went to doctors because they felt lumps in their breasts. We truly believe we may have potentially spared lives.

This is actually a photo I took of Lee at the DC walk in 08 before I knew who the Giller's were!

Question 4: What have you learned from this incredible experience?
Kathy says:

I have learned that there are extraordinary people who fight with everything they have against a very tough adversary. I have learned that some are victorious in the war and some are not. But most give their all in the battle. I have learned to remind myself that there are much bigger things getting upset about than the usual stuff that affects us in the course of our days. I have learned to be grateful for every minute with my husband and tell him how much I love him - every day. I have learned that I am stronger than I realized, but I never want my strength tested.

This interview shows you just a piece of what the Giller's are. They are truly dedicated to this cause, and really go the extra mile (pun really really intended) to raise awareness and compassion. While I am walking in DC this year, it will be my honor to share the sidewalk with Kathy and Lee, and I will thank them for opening my eyes to male breast cancer.

One last thing - It's on you Cleveland! Kathy and Lee will be walking with you, so I expect you to make them proud! :D You can do it!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (Anna Matlock)

I have another interview, this time from Anna Matlock, a new walker, doing her first walk in Tampa in October! Anna, unfortunately, is all too familiar with cancer, as she has lost 3 people to it. Her
uncle died of leukemia, her father of lung cancer, and most recently, she is battling with the loss of her sweet 32 year old sister who passed away from sarcoma this past December.

Here is Anna with Tampa's Dusty Showers
(Don't worry, he's on my list!)

Q1: Why did you decide to join the 3 day?

Anna says:
In short, I joined the 3 day because I found out the last day of the Tampa event was the same as my sister's wedding anniversary, and I needed something in my life to help me move forward.

And from Anna's blog, Little Mavericks...
I do not remember how I found out the actual date of the event in 2009. But there it was, the last day, November 1. Screaming at me. The last day of the walk in 2009 was my sister’s wedding anniversary. But, not only was the walk on her anniversary, she lived in Tampa for many years.

So there I stood, at a fork in the road, waiting, in limbo. When suddenly, fate dropped this gem in my lap. I knew it was a sign. Some higher power was at work, telling me that the path forward was right there staring me in the face. I could not walk away this time.

Many people do not understand my motive. “Your sister had sarcoma not breast cancer, why are you walking for breast cancer?” Cancer is cancer folks. It sucks, it hurts, it kills, and it takes families and rips them down. If by raising $2300 and walking 60 miles would save one single family from this fate, it would be worth it. This is not to say that facing this road did not scare the holy hell out of me. My initial thought was "I will never be able to raise that much money". I will never be able to walk 60 miles. But one baby step at a time I am traveling that road. Sometimes faltering, and even falling. But at each stumble and step I know my sister is right there beside me, doing what a big sister does best. She has given me courage, determination, and most of all hope. It is no surprise that her middle name is Hope. I have raised above and beyond the minimum, and though a few months ago walking 3 miles seemed impossible, I am now walking 7 miles back to back two days a week.

I walk because it eases my pain. I walk because it brings me closer to what I have left of my sister. I walk because I hate cancer. I walk, because standing there in limbo for the rest of my life is not an option. We must all move forward at some point in our lives, and if we really listen, and look closely we will discover what it is that is nudging us every so gently forward.

Anna and her team captain got these tattoos together

Q2: Why would you recommend the 3 day to others?

Anna says:
It will change your life! in more ways than you will ever know!

And more from her blog...
I met an amazing team captain, which could very well be my long lost twin. She graciously changed our team name to Walking for Hope. That small simple gesture was one I cannot thank her enough for, or ever show her just how much it meant to me. Where my sister has given me silent support, Michele has held my hand, and kept me motivated, when I was ready to quit. She has praised me, and encouraged me. In only a few weeks she became the best friend I have ever had. I could never repay her for all the light she has brought into the darkness that my life became when I lost my sister. She has taken up some of that empty space left in my heart when my sister left. Of course there will always be a hole where she was, but Michele has filled some of that gap quite nicely.

Q3: What has been your best contribution to the cause?

Anna says:
I feel that I have been the one who benefited from this. My team and I are still fundraising and donating to other walkers who are coming up short, as well.

Thank you, Anna!
To hear more about Anna's journey (and read the wonderful blog post I have taken from) visit www.littlemavericks.blogspot.com and don't forget to leave a comment!

One more thing, for all of you in Boston....
Good luck on your walk! Kick asphalt!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Support for those with the BRCA gene

I was forwarded an article from cnn about a breast cancer support group I had never heard of, and thought some of you may like to have the info.

Bright Pink is a nonprofit that supports and empowers young women who are at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It was created by a woman who tested positive for the BRCA gene (a gene that increases the likeness of getting cancer by up to 85%) and subsequently had a double mastectomy. So many women face increased statistics (through having a relative with cancer, finding BRCA, etc.) and are not sure what to do about it -- that is why Bright Pink was created.

Their website (www.bebrightpink.org) is fantastic. It is filled with tons of information, facts, advice, and community to support those at risk. They even offer a one-to-one support network that pares participants up with a "PinkPal" that offers experience, advice, and guidance.

Check it out, or pass on the info.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Talk To Me Tuesday (aka Talk to me Thursday) Margaret Roberts

I'm sorry I skipped a week! And that I'm late for this week! (I didn't think it would be missed, but I found a few of you do read my posts regularly! My apologies and sincere thanks for being a reader. These ladies (and gents) have great stories that deserve to be heard.)

So, to make it up to you, I have a great interview for you! :D

Today we are hearing from Margaret Roberts, a first time walker, participating in the San Francisco walk. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, and was diagnosed with a recurrence last year, at age 44. She is an inspirational woman, with a fighting spirit.

Question 1: What is your connection to breast cancer?

Margaret says:
This will be the first time that I have shared my story from the depths of my heart. I was only 39 years old, a single parent of a teenager and had been overweight my entire life. I previously had several lumps in my breasts, yes that is plural, that were nothing. But when I felt this lump, I knew right away it was different. Let me say that I am a very stubborn woman and determined not to be a bother or burden to others. So I went to the doctor alone and not really telling anybody what I was going for. I went immediately from the doctor’s office to radiology to have a mammogram and two days later a biopsy, again by myself. The results came in the day before I was to leave for a conference in Yosemite. The surgeon wanted to remove the cancer right away but I told him it would have to wait because I had some training to attend. So off I went without telling a single family member.

My parents had been planning a cross-country trip for probably 5 years when I was diagnosed and the trip was only weeks away. My family is very close and I knew that if I told even one family member they would tell my parents and they would cancel their trip. So I decided to keep it to myself. I did share with my sisters (I have 3) and finally my parents when they were half way across the states. They wanted to come home right away and I assured them I was fine and to continue on their trip. They called me every day without fail. At the time of my battle, I lived in a very small community and it did not take long for people to find out. My church family started showing up with meals.

I still went to my treatments alone. I took public transportation and I am not going to lie - it was the hardest and most difficult time of my life! I did not want my daughter (who I had not shared how really were) to worry about me. She and I are very close and she needed to concentrate on on school. With the initial surgery they missed a bit and I had to have a second surgery and my parents could hear something was wrong and I finally broke down and told them everything. They were home from Pennsylvania in 3 days!

Q2: What would you say to someone fighting cancer and keeping it all inside and to themselves?

Margaret says:
DON'T! Family and friends are a tremendous support system that want to be there for us. Let them help during a time when you need it the most. I hurt family and friends by not letting them in and allowing them to help me. Reach out to those who love you, they will feel your love as much as you will feel theirs.

And from Margaret's 3day personal page:
What I realized and why I share my story is that nobody, and I do mean nobody, deserves to have breast cancer. It has really taken me most of these years to come to that realization. For you out there that are being diagnosed, don’t go through any of the procedures or treatments without those who love you. In the end they are the support you need, they will give you hope when you feel there is none; they will give you a hug when you need it most and they ultimately love you unconditionally. Family and friends would have made a drastic difference if I would have let them in from the beginning. Let them in and share with them how you are feeling. They may not understand but they will be there to listen.

Q3: Why did you join the 3 day?

Margaret says:
I joined the 3Day with the hopes that the experience will help me to heal. I still struggle over the recurrence daily and at times find it hard to even get out of bed and function. I have made the choice to “take charge” of my healing and I am hoping to gain support from others. I also hope that along the walk that I can in some way help others by sharing my experiences. I want to reach out to people as I have had people reach out to me.

Q4: Any fundraising advice you can pass on?

Margaret says:
Reach out to everybody you know, business and personal. I sent emails to vendors that I work with, everybody in my business contacts list from work and my personal address book. I sent out close to 600 emails. Even if they give $10 - it is just that ten dollars. Some of the vendors personally donated and the amounts amazed me; they were some of my biggest donations.

Thank you, Margaret, for opening up to us. Now, I expect to see a few comments down below, as you throw your support and words of encouragement to Margaret. She knows the walk may be difficult, but she is taking it head on. Let her know how great she is doing -- and make sure to cheer her on in San Fran!