I'll never forget sitting at the top of the stairway, and watching my mom and my uncle help my dad walk into the house after he came home from having surgery at the hospital. I was in second grade at the time, and I didn't understand what cancer was exactly or about chemotherapy, but I knew that my grandfather died from it the year before. My mom and uncle helped my dad walk into the living room, and they helped him sit down in a chair. After getting him situated, they both walked back outside to get the remainder of things from the car.
Trembling and crying, I remember just staring at my dad, scared that I was going to lose him. He noticed that I was looking at him and he smiled. He could see how shaken up I was, and he reached for his cane to lift himself up from the chair. He struggled to take each step towards the staircase, shielding the pain from his face as he got closer to me. He reached the bottom of the stairway and looked up at me, smiling. He placed the cane next to the handrail, and lifted his hands up towards me, telling me that he was going to be alright. After all he had been through with his recent cancer treatments, radiation, and surgery, he remained standing. I hurried down the steps to give him a hug. I was young at the time, but I knew that he was personifying strength and determination in that moment. He wanted to show me that everything was going to be okay. My dad has recently celebrated almost 25 years of being cancer-free.
On September 18th, I will be participating in a 5 mile swimming event to support cancer research for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center with Johns Hopkins Medicine. In our lifetime, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer. I joined the Swim Across America community so that, together, we can change that. I am challenging myself by swimming in the Baltimore Open Water Swim, and raising as much money to fight cancer as I can. Cancer has impacted our family many times, as it has for millions of people all over the world. I've lost childhood friends to cancer. Both of my grandparents on my dad's side died of cancer (prostate and pancreatic), my uncle passed away (pancreatic) from it last year, and it almost took my dad's life. What makes this swim extra special to me is the fact that my dad will also be kayaking next to me during the 5 mile swim.
I want to do all I possibly can to help find a cure for cancer. This event is more than just swimming 5 miles, it is about cherishing each mile, each breath, and each heartbeat, while also helping those who have been affected by cancer to be able to do the very same thing.
Learn more about my journey here: http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/goto/ironheart
Any donations will go towards cancer research, prevention and treatment and will make an impact in the fight to find a cure.
Thank you for your generosity and may it lead to a cancer-free world!