This year’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk took place Nov. 19-21 with its trademark pink ribbon logo to support breast cancer research was Pacific Beach resident Jennifer Branch’s 12th outing and her daughter Megan’s first.
“I started walking 12 years ago and have walked every year except last year when it was canceled and held virtually due to COVID,” said Jennifer Branch. “I initially started walking because I had a family member with breast cancer who was fighting it. After the first walk, I learned that it kind of helps you put everything in perspective about your personal life, about what’s really important – and what’s not – when the walk is done. I liked what I took away from the event.”
Added Branch: “And then my babysitter, our nanny in her early 20s, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She did not have any insurance.”
Her nanny Julie Phan’s plight inspired Branch to raise the bar in her efforts to join in the breast cancer fight.
“So I formed a team to start walking for her in her name called the Phan Club,” she said adding, “It’s been five years now and Julie has had a double mastectomy and made a full recovery, and is now the proud mother of a beautiful, 3-year-old little boy. It’s really great news.”
Branch pointed out daughter Megan “grew up watching her mom do this walk every year, cheering on the walk, handing out pink stickers, and helping me set up my pink tent (camping overnight in Crown Point).”
Megan, 17, concurred with her mom that the three-day walk is all-important in helping to fight breast cancer.
“I’ve never officially walked it but I’ve done it every year, met up with my mom and her friends whenever they walked,” Megan said. “It’s been a part of my life every year since I can remember, from when I was a little Girl Scout. I cherish little things like that.”
This past weekend, Jennifer and Megan Branch were among the scores of passionate pink-hued women and men who sauntered 60 miles over three days, starting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday and culminating with a moving closing ceremony at Waterfront Park with fanfare, speeches, and camaraderie on Sunday. These men and women each raised in excess of $2,000 and walked 20 miles a day for three consecutive days, all while educating tens of thousands of people about breast health.
The walk’s proceeds will support the mission of Susan G. Komen by funding breakthrough research and efforts to ensure all people receive the best health care they need.
Walk participants trained and raised funds for several months in preparation for the event, which fosters lifelong friendships and memories while providing the community a moving opportunity to honor those who have battled, and for those who continue to fight, breast cancer. Breast cancer afflicts one out of every eight women during their lives. In 2021 alone, an estimated 281,000 women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
The foundation's namesake, Susan Goodman Komen, died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36. Komen's younger sister, Nancy Brinker, believed that Susan's outcome might have been better if patients knew more about cancer and its treatment, and founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in 1982.
In 2008, the 25th anniversary of the breast cancer-battling organization changed its name to "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" and its logo to the pink ribbon.
Of the three-day walk itself, Jennifer Branch commented: “Most people do train for it. It’s not a major physical exertion. It’s an endurance event where you just keep going. The slogan from Susan G. Komen is that the pain and the muscular aches and blisters aren’t nearly as difficult as fighting breast cancer or going through chemotherapy. So it’s all worth it.”
SUSAN G. KOMEN 3-DAY
The annual fundraising event began with an inspirational opening ceremony at Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday, Nov. 19. Walkers starting out on a fairly flat, paved walk along coastal Highway 101. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve presented a significant hill early-on, with approximately a two-mile climb on paved roadway and dirt paths followed by a three-mile downhill descent into La Jolla.
After lunch, the going was mostly flat terrain with a few rolling hills through La Jolla, Bird Rock, and Pacific Beach. The day's route concluded with a paved trail to Mission Bay heading to camp at Crown Point Shores.
On Saturday morning Nov. 20, participants pounded the trail again. The day's route took walkers around Mission Bay and through the hilly but breathtaking views of Sunset Cliffs, showcasing the coastal neighborhoods of Ocean and Pacific beaches. Mission Bay was the afternoon highlight and jewel of Day 2 on the walkers way back to Crown Point camp for another evening of community, camaraderie and fun.
The final day of the 60-mile journey on Sunday, Nov. 21, started with a walk leaving Pacific Beach and heading around Mission Bay. Just before lunch, walkers climbed the steep half-mile hill in Old Town to reach Mission Hills and Hillcrest. The latter part of the day brought a two-mile descent past Balboa Park, through Little Italy and into Downtown. The journey was completed with a fun Finish Line Festival and an inspiring closing ceremony at Waterfront Park.