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Alyssa’s Story: Finding “My Place” in the Komen 3-Day

Alyssa Smith has participated in The 3-Day for 16 years. In January, she became the first fundraiser to reach the $100,000 lifetime milestone for 2023. This is her story in her own words.

My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Thankfully, after an intensive treatment plan that included surgery and chemotherapy, her scans showed no evidence of disease. Watching her go through treatment, especially the intense chemo regimen, made me and my sister want to take some type of action, but it wasn’t until I was researching her medications a year later that I first learned about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. We talked about it and said we should register, but life happened, and we didn’t sign up.

I came across the registration information again in 2007 and decided that if I didn’t register right then, I would never go through with it. Before I could talk myself out of it, I completed my registration (at 1 a.m.) and immediately thought, “What did I just do?” I told myself that someone else’s fundraising made it possible for my mom to still be here today, and I wanted to give back and pay that forward.

My first 3-Day was in Chicago. I had trained, but I was still nervous and knew making it 60 miles over three days was going to be difficult. However, as soon as I arrived at the first opening ceremony, I knew I had found “my place.” Everyone was so welcoming and warm, and provided so much support throughout the journey.

Since my first event, I’ve participated in nearly 30 events in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts and California. I was honored to receive the 2017 Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award. I am very lucky to have some incredibly dedicated donors who have continued to support me and utilizing matching donations through my workplace and my donors’ workplaces has really helped me achieve my goals each year. And this year, I surpassed $100,000 in lifetime fundraising and became a member of the Lifetime Commitment Circle, which is an incredible honor. ­­

In 2021, my mom learned her breast cancer had returned, and it was now metastatic (stage 4). My sister and I visited her at Christmas, hoping we could provide some cheer. Thanks to her treatment plan, she was a completely different person when we saw her several months later. Even now, at age 77, she has more energy than I’ve seen in such a long time and her markers were stable at her most recent appointment. Her doctors told her she could expect to live five more years, but she says, “You don’t know what they’ll find or what treatments they’ll have in five years.” Her mindset and strength inspire me to keep going and keep fundraising.

But it’s not just my mom that keeps me going. I carry the names that donors give to me – of people fighting and those we’ve lost. Every year at the walks, I listen and hear so many more names to keep walking for. I don’t walk just in honor of my mom – I also walk in honor of all of them.

This community is so full of love and inspiration, and I am continually in awe of the people I meet. I come back for those genuine interactions – to hear stories, to laugh and cry, share hugs and to try to make a difference.

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.