One Girl's Life Changing Experience at the Susan G Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk
When a friend of mine suggested doing the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk, I never thought I would actually go through with it, much less have such a life changing experience. I have a family history of breast cancer so promoting breast cancer awareness and raising money for the cause were my main motivations. From the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, each day was packed full of inspiration - from the husbands walking for their wives to the rabid cheering stations to the survivors themselves hoofing it 60 miles along with the rest of us.
There is a lot of information out there about the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk, but I wanted to share my experience, talk about some tips and things I wish I would have done and hopefully inspire you to take this journey for yourself!
About Susan G. Komen and the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the largest breast cancer charity in the world. The organization was started in honor of Susan Goodman Komen who died from breast cancer in 1980 - her younger sister, Nancy Brinker, began the charity in 1983 to raise awareness for breast cancer so other families didn't have to go through the same thing. Komen has raised over $1.5 billion dollars for breast cancer research and education - among their many functions, they lobby government for additional funding for breast cancer research and also put on many events like the 3 Day Walk and the Race for the Cure all over the world.
The first Breast Cancer 3 Day was in 2003 and now takes place in over 15 cities through the U.S. Each participant walks 60 miles over a three day period and commits to raising $2,300 for Susan G. Komen. More than $400 million has been raised from the 3 Day event alone since the first event. Hundreds of volunteers help create this event - from pit stops and snack stations to the tent city that the walkers sleep in at night, the Breast Cancer 3 Day takes a lot of preparation!
The Importance of Training
Training is so essential in preparing for the Komen 3 Day. I didn't train nearly as much as I should have, and those who did seemed to experience less problems with blisters and other ailments than I did. Susan G. Komen provides a training program, resources and support in order to get you ready to walk 20 miles a day for three days - it is no easy feat!
Training is not only good for the actual physical fitness you will need for the walking, but also to test out your equipment - make sure your fanny pack (yes, I said fanny pack!) fits correctly and doesn't bother you when you walk. Also, breaking in your shoes is important. I would suggest going to a local running store and getting fitted specifically for this event. You will go through a few pairs training and you will need two broken in pairs for the actual event.
This is where signing up with a group of friends come in handy. Being accountable to your friends during the training - especially during the LONG walks - is essential to your success!
What to Bring: The Essentials
The Komen folks will tell you exactly what to bring, including water, Bandaids, etc., but here are a few things that you might not think about that really made walking easier for me over the course of the three day event.
A second pair of socks. There was no better feeling at lunch time than to switch out your socks that you had worn all morning for a fresh, dry pair. This keeps you from getting blisters and also puts an extra pep in your step to keep plugging along in the afternoon.
A portable radio. They don't allow iPods or headphones of any kind, but I always tried to stick close to the groups that had a portable radio hanging off their backpacks. It breaks up the monotony of the day and injects some fun and comaraderie into the event!
Blister/Gel bandages. I used petroleum jelly, Body Glide, gel bandages and moleskin throughout the walk. Any time I felt a "hot spot" or place where I knew there was a lot of friction, I would treat the area with one of these things in order to reduce friction. While the best way to prevent this is to have the correct footwear, most everyone will get a blister or two during the 3 Day.
Lancing needles and alcohol pads.There are medical stations along the way, but usually they are jam packed with people experiencing crazy blisters or exhaustion. I treated blisters myself using small lancing needles like diabetics use for getting blood samples. Alcohol pads were just to make sure the area was clean (let's just be clear - I am not even close to being a doctor so this is not medical advice, just something I did to make sure my blisters didn't get worse) All I did was lance the blisters in order to drain them, not expose the skin underneath.
A fanny pack with two water bottles. The fanny pack I used had places for two water bottles, which came in handy to keep one full of water and one full of Gatorade. The temperature varied widely during November when I was walking and I wanted to prevent dehydration, but I don't love the taste of Gatorade so switching off was perfect!
The Experience of a Lifetime
Hands down, my 3 Day experience totally changed my life. At every cheering station, there were people genuinely thankful for us walking to raise awareness for breast cancer. The stories we heard along the way about breast cancer survivors inspired me take another step even when I thought I was done.
The experience of thousands of people marching through a city with one goal in mind was powerful and knowing that we raised almost $8 million for the cause was a wonderful reward after a long weekend. Even if you don't think you can do a 3 Day, I assure you that you can. People from all walks of life, ages, fitness levels were participating and making the statement that we can change the world just by walking!
There are volunteer opportunities as well - there were dedicated people at each rest stop helping to get us water and food, make sure we were feeling OK, offering medical attention and, most importantly, words of encouragement.
Sign up for a 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk in Your Area!!
An Inspiration: One Group's 3 Day Journey in Dallas
Support Breast Cancer Research
Breast cancer awareness is essential to finding a cure for this disease that takes the lives of our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our grandmothers, our friends every single year.
There are many ways to support breast cancer research and one of those ways is to purchase items with the pink ribbon on them that indicate that a portion of their proceeds with go toward breast cancer research. Every little bit helps!