2017 was a frustrating year for me in the battle against breast cancer. Even as I walked each weekend to train for the next 3Day event, another family member or friend of our 3Day family was diagnosed or lost to this dreadful disease. I felt a small sense of guilt for how lucky I have been in the 15 years since my diagnosis and treatment.
I learned to replace that guilt with the knowledge that the strengths I developed after my treatment could be used to help others with their journey, comfort those touched by cancer, or train new 3Day walkers with the same passion for the Komen mission.
2018 marks my 16th year as a breast cancer survivor. Yes, it has been 16 years since I received my diagnosis, and went through surgeries, chemotherapy, and reconstruction. For the last 8 years participating in the 3Day, I have focused my story on how I learned I had breast cancer and how it affected my life. That journey will never be forgotten, but as I enter into training for 2018, I have begun to see the impact I can have on others who are survivors, co-survivors, or interested in learning more about how to educate, inspire, and fundraise for the cause. My story now includes strength, confidence, and a desire to help others understand the value of what we do.
Making the decision to participate in a Komen 3Day begins a journey like no other. The first year is filled with excitement and nervousness. Can I do the miles? Will I be able to keep up? What will it be like walking with a thousand people and sleeping in pink tents? Can I raise the money? I had all these questions, and one by one they were answered. As each year goes by and I walk in various cities, I know now that my purpose is bigger than the steps I take. It is about the team spirit that is a part of all who walk the 3Day.
For the past 6 years I have been a part of team STEPS. This group of survivors, co-survivors, and supporters is dedicated to not only the physical walking, but support of the needs of our breast cancer awareness community. Our 3Day family has celebrated the successes of Komen research, held up those diagnosed and in treatment, and mourned those we have lost.
This year I will be walking in Dallas and Seattle as my 14th and 15th walks. I will train happily with old teammates and welcome first timers to the 3Day journey.
If you ever considered supporting the Komen 3Day, I am asking you to do so now. Visit the 3Day website http://www.the3day.org/goto/DanaBilbray14. Any size donation is important. If you work for a company that does matching gifts, that would help even more. My goal is $2300 to participate.
If you are interested in walking with our team in 2018, I would love to be your training mentor. With the right amount of passion, it is about taking one step at a time. Reach out to me through my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 972-467-5339.
If you know others who are walking this year, I ask that you support them in whatever way you can. If you have friends who are looking for a cause, ask them to offer a donation to this wonderful event. Find me on Facebook and see some of the photos from the 2017 walks. It was unbelievable.