Virginia Willis Blog

The Susan G. Komen Three Day & Why I am Walking

Susan G. Komen Three Day on

Some of you know through social media that I am in training to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Atlanta this October. It’s 60 miles in three days and I am midway through the 24 week training program. It’s been challenging with my schedule, but it’s something I have wanted to do for years. In this post I am sharing what I wrote on my personal fundraising page and why I am walking.

The training has been very powerful. It’s scary to think about walking 60 miles in three days. Yet, my fear lessens as I train. It felt amazing to accomplish walking 8 then 9 then 10 miles! That made me feel like I can do anything! I have been encouraged by so many friends. Maureen Petrosky kindly shared the laces she wore when she walked and I’ve gotten so many notes and emails of support.

I am walking in honor of my sweet Mama, Jenny B. Willis who is an 11-year survivor. I will never forget the day she called and told me that they had found a lump in her breast. It was that call, the call that happens in the movies, the call that happens to other people, the call that seems surreal and unimaginable. The call that changes your life.

Susan G. Komen Three Day on

They had found a small lump when she was undergoing a routine mammogram. I needed to come home.

The next few weeks and days are a blur and I honestly don’t remember much. When Mama was sick and in the hospital, it was one of the most frightening things ever. It seemed actually possible that my Mama might die. Cancer. Seeing my tiny Mama scared and unable to do anything at all was the worst. She kept saying, “I’ll be all right.” I know she was saying it to make my sister and I feel better, but we knew she was just saying it, we knew that no one knew. Fear was the only thing that was certain.

Susan G. Komen Three Day on


We were all taking a crash course in learning to speak a new language. Sentinel lymph node, ductal carcinoma in situ, needle aspiration. It felt like a dream, a horrible, horrible dream. The first visit to the oncologist was alarming and grim. Chair after chair of thin, pallid people connected to IVs of chemotherapy; there were some people that were very clearly dying. I was having to imagine the unfathomable, that I might lose my mama. I felt chilling fear deep in my soul like I had never, ever felt before.

As is my nature, I started to educate myself. I asked the doctor so many questions that he inquired in which of the medical field did I work! The kind ladies at the University Breast Health Center were immeasurably helpful. They shared information with us, educated us, and advised us. They directed us to the Susan G. Komen website where I was able to study what our family, my Mama, was facing.

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The days and months after were terrifying, but her cancer had been caught in time.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days. Net proceeds help support research, scientific programs, and community-based breast health and education programs for those facing breast cancer. I will never, ever forget how important the Susan G. Komen foundation was to my family during that difficult time.

This is why I will walk, to help quell the fear.

Currently, about 70% of women 40 and older receive regular mammograms – just like the one that discovered Mama’s. Regular mammograms are the single most effective screening tool to find breast cancer early. Since 1990, early detection and effective treatment have resulted in a 34% decline in breast cancer mortality in the United States. Susan G. Komen has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer – transforming the treatment of this disease and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors.

I am very, very glad my sweet Mama is one of them.

Many thanks for your support.
Virginia Willis

Please click here to donate to my personal fundraising page.

Susan G. Komen Three Day on

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