Tag Archives: breast cancer

The Fight is Far From Over

5 Dec

Last week the Governor announced that they would be burying a a 375th anniversary time capsule filled with items that tell the story of Hartford and Connecticut in 2010. Among the items is a 2010 Race for the Cure t-shirt and the question, “Have you found a cure for cancer yet?” for those who unearth it at the 400th anniversary. Who doesn’t want to see the cure found within their lifetime? At 25 years old, there’s a good chance it could happen during mine.

But then, sometimes something happens and I take a step back and wonder exactly how far we’ve come. A few weeks ago I was working the Komen table at a school fair where teachers were coming to get their flu shot and could also pick up information for teacher credit unions and that sort of thing. All afternoon I chatted with people and heard their personal stories of breast cancer in their family and sympathized over the loss of a loved one or celebrated a survival. Not many men stopped by the table, but there also weren’t many men attending the fair. Towards the end of the day, two men wandered in and stopped at a couple of tables and then stopped in front of mine. One of them started picking up a brochure while saying “For my wife…” somewhat sheepishly. I quietly directed him to the pamphlet entitled “Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too” and reminded him (or so I thought I was doing) that he should pick it up for himself, since men can also get breast cancer. He paused, looking confused, and said, “Really? I didn’t know men could get breast cancer.” This is something I have to constantly remind myself is not common knowledge. For so many years breast cancer was considered a woman’s cancer, why would this man have any reason to think otherwise if breast cancer had never touched his life before? So while I was happy to have given him that knowledge, and hopefully he took that home and remembered it, I have to remember that there are so many people out there, women and men, who haven’t been educated on the facts of breast cancer.

So our work is far from over. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, and yet sometimes I have to remind myself of it. The energy at a 3-Day Closing Ceremony when they tell us we’ve raised $5.5 million sometimes makes me feel as though we must be so close. And maybe we are. But we can’t stop pushing and walking and fund raising and educating with 110% of what we have until the cures are found.

Join Team Twitter ATL in October 2011 for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Donate to my 2011 Atlanta 3-Day walk.

Discoveries

27 Jul

The flag that I got to carry during Opening Ceremony said Discoveries on it. It was part of the “Lifetime” series, which includes Birthdays, Reunions, Weddings and so on… thing that everyone should get to participate in during their lifetime. The meaning of the flag continued on throughout the weekend, as I discovered a lot about myself and lot about those I walked with.

In general, Day 1 goes by pretty quickly because you’re fueled by the excitement of all of your training and fundraising finally coming to an end. Day 2 is usually the hardest because it is the longest walking day and you’re tired from Day 1. Day 3 is usually a bit easier but the mileage is shorter and you know the end is in sight! For me, Day 3 was the hardest.  But we walked through beautiful Cambridge, Harvard Square, through the MIT campus and over the Charles into Boston. We walked through the Commons and through the city. I love Boston and this was a great way to see my favorite city. We walked through Southie and right down to the shore and had lunch by the ocean. Having grown up on the coast of Maine and then moving inland to central Connecticut, I miss the ocean.

The heat on Day 3 at times seemed unbearable. I had to stop in the shade every chance I got to catch my breath and cool off. We walked over so many bridges in the full sun I thought I’d never make it, and the last 3 miles after lunch seemed like an eternity. But in retrospect, I know that 3 miles is just 3 miles. That walking in the sun for a few hours is simply that. Hard maybe, but absolutely doable.

I know that walking 60 miles is nothing compared to what breast cancer patients are currently going through. The emotional and physical strain that women and men have to go through when diagnosed with breast cancer is something that could never be described. As I was texting Paul during the walk about the pain I was feeling and how tired I was, he texted me back and said, “When you feel the most tired and the most sore just think of what you’re accomplishing and the statement you’re making. Think of Karin.” And that kept me going.

I am so proud of myself and of my fellow Boston walkers for making it through all 3 days together. Even though I went to the 3-Day by myself, I was never really alone. I walked with others and made friends, I talked, learned and shared. The walkers and survivors who participated in this walk, and those who will participate in the other 14 walks from now through November are AMAZING people. If you know someone who is walking, support them! Donate, cheer them on, go on a training walk with them, make them a sign, share their blog posts, leave them supportive comments on their Facebook page. If you can, go to Closing Ceremony and see why they walk. See it in person. It’s an amazing and touching experience that you are not likely to forget. I am so glad my parents made it to Closing this year. They supported me last year in my first walk in DC and supported me in my decision to walk again, but as I hugged them after Closing this year and saw the tears in their eyes, I knew I would have their unwavering support forever.

Thank you to all of my Facebook and Twitter friends who sent encouraging messages throughout the weekend, your words helped push me along and gave me the energy to Keep Going®. I am so lucky to call you all friends, and to have made so many new friends through the Keep Going program and through #the3day!

Congratulations Boston 3-Day for the Cure walkers, survivors and crew! The 1600 walkers I had the honor to walk with raised $4.3 MILLION for Susan G. Komen for the Cure! WE ARE AMAZING! I am so proud of every single one of you!

Check out my photos on Facebook from the weekend! Donations are still accepted for another month, if you’ve enjoyed my blog posts I hope you’ll consider making a donation.

And now on to the next walk! Check out the Keep Going Blogger page and follow the 3-Day for the Cure around the country! Next stop, Cleveland!

Day 1 Done! And Then the Rain Came…

23 Jul

Day 1 of the Boston Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure is complete! It felt great to walk up the hill and see camp in the distance! It’s been a long, but awesome day here in the outskirts of Boston. Opening ceremony was inspiring and got everyone ramped up to hit the road! I was so honored to have been asked to carry a flag during the opening ceremony, and I got to carry Discoveries.

My walk experience thus far is a lot different than what I experienced last year. Last year I was on a team and Paul walked with me; this year I’m walking solo. It’s been wonderful to meet so many of the different walkers on the route. My Vibrams have made a lot of new friends for me! I get asked a lot what kind of shoes they are and how my feet feel walking in them. Towards the end of the day, I had to be honest and tell them that my feet had felt better days. The first 10 miles went really well, and then I started to feel the blisters forming and the soreness setting in. I also seem to have pulled a muscle in my thigh, so for the last 10 miles I was puttering along at a slower pace which was just fine by me. Reached camp at about 3pm, just when it started to rain.

And as I said, along the way I met some really great people. First, before the walk even started, I met John. John is from Hamden, CT and we met in the New Haven train station. He recognized my gear and sat down and started chatting. This is his 3rd walk so he was telling me the ins and out of Boston. Turns out he was going to carry an opening ceremony flag as well so we’ve become good buddies.

There was Vicky from X Team who is from Newton and a survivor. She was telling me about her 12 year old son who came to opening ceremony practice and looked a little bored. She said she walked over and asked how he was doing and he paused and then said, “You’re a survivor. I’m only 12. This is kind of tough” about watching a ceremony about being a survivor and losing loved ones.

I met George, who is something of a legend around these parts. This is his 7th Boston 3-Day for the Cure walk and his signature, the thing everyone knows him for, is that when he arrives at any Pit Stop or Grab N Go and especially at camp, he walks to the center of the crowd and yells, “Honey!! I’m hooooome!” and everyone cheers. He walks for his wife, who lost her battle with breast cancer.

I met Jill and Christie; Jill from Kentucky and Christie from Texas and they’re walking for Jill’s family. Three of Jill’s sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer within two years, her mom is a survivor, diagnosed twenty years ago.

Of course Men With Heart is here! Great guys in bright yellow shirts who are supportive and really embody the Keep Going® spirit! They stood at the finish line in the rain cheering everyone in.

I think the person who best represents everything the Energizer Bunny® is about and the Keep Going® spirit would be Kevin. I met him during practice for opening ceremonies, and Kevin is walking ALL 15 walks this year! He did one walk in 2008, two in 2009 and decided to do all 15 this year. He said he just wanted to step it up a bit… a bit. But he’s always excited and in the front of the pack, very energetic and ready to Keep Going®. Make sure you find Kevin if you’re doing one of the other 14 walks!!

Looking forward to tomorrow! I need to go do something about my blisters and think about if I’ll keep my Vibrams on tomorrow or if I’ll use the sneakers that I brought with me. Decisions, decisions. Thank you EVERYONE for your supportive tweets during the day! They were so great and really inspired me to Keep Going® as the day was coming to a close!

Donations accepted until 30 days after the walk! Would love your support! http://bit.ly/caitlin3day

The Countdown Begins!

13 Jul

The countdown really began the day I signed up for the 3-Day for the Cure® but now that we’re down to 10 DAYS it’s much easier to keep track of! Only 10 days until the 3-Day for the Cure season kicks off, and it’s all starting in Boston! This is the time when everything starts to come together, and all of the training and fundraising feels like it’s paying off. When you’re fundraising months and months in advance, it feels like you have SO MUCH TIME to get everything done, and you’re telling people that you’re walking in July which feels like an eternity away. Now it’s July and the walk starts in 10 days. It’s reality.

My memories of last year’s walk keep flooding back as I’m thinking about packing my overnight bag, as I’m packing and re-packing my hip bag that I’ll take on the walk with me, as I’m contemplating how many pairs of socks to bring (not this year! No socks with my Vibrams), and running last minute errands to make sure I have everything. If you’re starting to think about packing, make sure you read The Underground Guide to the Breast Cancer Walks. It saved my life last year in telling me the do’s and don’t’s of packing. Seriously, read it.

To all of my Boston friends, I hope you’ll come to cheer on not only me, but the other walkers who have taken on this challenge as well! There are designated cheering stations throughout the walk, and I hope you’ll take the time to hang out at one or two sometime during the weekend:

Friday, July 23:

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
St. Paul’s Church
502 Washington St.
Wellesley, MA 02482

12:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Yolanda’s parking lot
355 SR-60 Waverly Oaks Rd.
Waltham, MA 02452

Saturday, July 24:

7:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Robins Farm Park
51 Eastern Ave.
Arlington, MA 02476

9:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
YMCA-Greater Boston Area:
North Suburban Family Branch
138 Lexington St.
Woburn, MA 01801

11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Parker Field Playground
81 Worthen Rd.
Lexington, MA 02420

Sunday, July 25:

7:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Shaw’s Supermarket
699 Mount Auburn St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

8:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

9:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Boston Public Garden
(between Paul Revere and Swan Boats)
Commonwealth & Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02127

And for all of those walking the Boston 3-Day for the Cure… I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET YOU! One of the absolute best parts of the walk is just meeting all of the other walkers!! Everyone comes for a different reason; whether it’s to support a loved one, remember someone they’ve lost, support the cause or just to get themselves in better shape, everyone has a great story to tell. So Boston walkers, keep in mind that if you talk to me, you just may end up in my blog!

My advice to all walkers; enjoy every second. Enjoy the soreness, the tired, the pain. Enjoy meeting everyone, make an effort to talk to a lot of people, walk with different groups. Enjoy the port-a-potties (it’s better than a bush!), the shower trucks, the dining tent. Thank every crew member you meet, everyone who serves you breakfast, lunch and dinner and thank the other walkers around you. The words “thank you” were one of my biggest motivators last year. Every time someone said it to me it propelled me further.

10 days!

3-Day Fundraising and Social Media

26 Jun

Maybe some of you who are reading this are are Facebook. Maybe you’re on Twitter as well. Do you have a blog?  Social media for most people is a fun way to stay in touch with friends and family and is something to do when you’re bored. Unless you use social media for your business or company, then you’re mostly right. Facebook and Twitter are fun ways to connect with others, find old friends and make new ones. But you can also use social media for your 3-Day fundraising! Here are some tips for getting the most out of your networks.

1) Facebook – I know sometimes you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again, harping on donations and sending out the link to your 3-Day page. What you have to remember is that whenever you post something on Facebook, only a small percentage of your friends will see it. It shows up in their news feed but then gets pushed to the bottom, and unless you’re lucky enough to have it pop up in their Top News stories later on or a day later, then some of your friends have missed it entirely! And those friends who see it more than once certainly aren’t going to unfriend you because of it. You’re raising money for an important cause! If they haven’t donated after seeing the 4th post, maybe the 5th one will be the one that gets them to click and donate. And if they do donate, they’ll feel good seeing you continue to post the link knowing that they’ve already helped you out. So don’t be shy! Post away!

Create an event for your fundraising page and invite your friends to it. This is a pro-active way to share the link with people. If you have the time, post the link directly on your friend’s page, make it a personal ask!

2) Twitter – Everything I said above goes for Twitter as well. When you send out a tweet with your link in it, only a tiny percentage of your followers will see it right then before it gets pushed down the line. Send it out more than once a day! It shouldn’t be the only thing you tweet, but if it’s mixed in with other conversations you’re having it certainly can’t hurt! Make sure you’re using appropriate hashtags as well. Try using hashtag #komen, #the3day, #fundraising, #donation, #charity, #walking and more. Search for different words and see what comes up. You may get donations from people you’ve never met because of the hashtags you use. Also, in the tweet itself ask you friends to re-tweet it for you, and most likely they will. This opens you up to a whole new list of followers.

3) Blogs – Obviously so important to keep people up to date! Use your blogs to tell people why this cause is important to you, how much you’ve raised so far and how many training miles you’ve walked. Make it personal, tell a story, and you’ll get people involved. The wonderful thing about blogs is that they show up in Google searches and you’ll get readership from all over the country and the world, and readers who are specifically interested in what you’re talking about! Find other 3-Day blogs. Read them, support them, comment on them. Link to other 3-Day blogs in your posts. We’re all fundraising for the same cause.

Make sure that no matter what networks you’re in, that you’re linking them all back to each other. This is a great way to build a community on each platform that supports what you’re doing! You’ll meet so many great people who can give advice, who need advice, who can share ideas and thoughts and support! And don’t forget that above all social media is meant to be fun! Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and experiences with others, because then they’ll be willing to do the same with you and by the time you actually get to the 3-Day you’ll already have an awesome network of friends to share the experience with!

And always feel free to donate to MY 3-Day for the Cure walk!

Impact Connecticut!

19 May

Sometimes I forget that Susan G. Komen for the Cure started with one woman. That fact is always in my head, somewhere, but sometimes when I’m watching commercials for Komen or hearing something on the radio, I forget. And then I get in a room with the Komen Connecticut staff, and like tonight, in a room with the Team Captains for the 2010 Race for the Cure and I remember that Susan G. Komen for the Cure was started by one woman. With all of them women (and men) in the room it reminds you that it started with just one. But it’s when that one woman connects with another, and those two connect with others that it starts to grow and that a one-woman organization can grow to become the largest grassroots organization in the country. Komen for the Cure is now a GLOBAL organization.

We have about 30 of our Team Captains in the room tonight and they represent the 273 teams we currently have signed up for this year’s Race for the Cure. Judy Caturano, the Team Captain Chair shared with us that those 273 have raised over $117,000 of the current $177,000 raised so far for this year’s race. How amazing is that?! One person can start a team, and that team can go on to raise $10,000 or more. We’re just one little state and yet for this cause we can come together and raise money to support their fellow CT residents. 75% of all money raised at the Race for the Cure will STAY IN CONNECTICUT and help CT residents pay for mammograms, treatment and support. The other 25% will go to research to find the cure for breast cancer.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who is participating in this year’s Race for the Cure! If you’ve never been, it’s an absolutely amazing day in Bushnell Park in Hartford and the energy is unbelievable. People are excited to be there; honoring someone or remembering someone. People are happy, and sad. Laughing and crying. It’s really amazing. If you’d like to register, go to the Komen Connecticut website! And if you’d like to join a team, feel free to join mine! I’ll be walking around all day Facebooking and Tweeting  for KomenCT and running the 5k race! Join my team, Nutmeggers for Komen!

A story from tonight’s Team Captains Reception: One of the walkers, Patty Fox of TEAM PATTY was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38. THIRTY. EIGHT. With the new “guidelines” out there that say screening should start at age 50, I say NO WAY. Susan G. Komen for the Cure says you should get your baseline mammogram at age 35 and start getting yearly at age 40. Anyway, so Patty went to her doctor and was diagnosed with melanoma on her arm. At some point she or they found a lump in her breast and she went for a mammogram. Because she’s young, her mammogram came up clean. Her doctor told her she shouldn’t worry because of her age and that it was most likely benign. But they went ahead and got the ultrasound and there they found something. Still, her doctor said she was most likely fine, it would be benign. When she went further, she found she had Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. She went through aggressive chemo and radiation and is currently is post-treatment. She still doesn’t call herself a survivor, not yet.

Stories like hers, when you see breast cancer affecting a real person with a family and a life, and it makes you want to get involved. Get involved! Impact your community!

Time for Training?

1 May

With just less than 3 months until the Boston 3-day kicks off I know I need to get more serious about my training. For the past month I’ve been walking almost every day, 2 or 3 miles. I don’t know about you, but around this time of year my job gets absolutely crazy. I work in a museum where a lot of school kids visit and for at least 3 days a week I find myself on my feet for 6-8 hours. And not just on my feet, but giving hour-long tours, running around making sure everything is running smoothly, and generally exhausting myself. I find that by the time I get in my car at 5:30pm all I’m thinking about is going home and becoming better friends with my couch and TV. The little voice in the back of my head tells me to fight through it, go on a walk and I’ll feel better afterwards but my legs tell me something entirely different. So how does one find the time to do some serious training for the 3-day? It seems so easy to put it off because 3 months seems like a long time, but seeing as today is May 1st and yesterday felt like April was just beginning I know 3 months will fly by and the 3-day will be here.

So I’ve come up with a few ideas for myself on how to stay motivated and I thought I’d share them with all of you.

1) I have a pedometer at home that I’m going to start bringing to work. I know that I walk around a lot at work between giving tours and greeting groups so I’m going to track it. At the end of the day when I see that all of my work has added up to significant steps I think my excitement of this knowledge will pick me up a little and I’ll feel more inclined to take a real walk when I get home.

2) Having just moved into a new neighborhood I’ve been really excited to do some exploring. It’s an old neighborhood with some really gorgeous houses and it’s been fun to check it out on the short walks I’ve taken. I’m going to try and pre-plan my route for upcoming walks so I can be sure to explore the whole neighborhood! I’ve found that the distraction of seeing new places and having something interesting to look at is a great way to get through those extra few miles. Try driving to a new neighborhood to walk in. Look it up on Google Maps beforehand and plan your route and check out something new!

3) One of my biggest excuses for not walking is because I have errands to do. Go to the library, bank, post office… whatever it happens to be. I’m fortunate to have moved into a neighborhood where if I drive a short way, I can park and then walk to do all of my errands. I park somewhere in the middle and then I can walk to the post office, pass by my car on the way to the library, pass by my car again to drop off the books and pick up what I need on the way to the bank. I keep my water bottle in the car so as I pass by I can stop and grab a drink and then continue on! If you live near a downtown area think about how you could incorporate your errands into parking somewhere and then walking to do all of them.

Now I know that doing these things aren’t a substitute for doing a nice 15 mile training walk but they’re a great start! Build up to longer walks, and plan a whole day for your long walks. Bring friends! The hardest part of training is just starting. Just keep thinking about how great you’ll feel at the end of each day during the 3-day because of your training, and because of the amazing cause you’re walking for. Training is nothing compared to those going through chemo and living with breast cancer. If they can do that, I can most certainly do this.