As I have done for more than 20 years, I am again swimming all the way across the Long Island Sound to raise money for cancer research.
This year, I am swimming for Valerie Narins Malsch. 5 years ago, Valerie's husband Jeff was my kayaker. Now Valerie, the mother of three daughters and a son. is battling multiple myeloma.
Multiple Myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Valerie’s cancer was diminishing her immune system and compromising her kidney function. There is currently no cure for Multiple Myeloma, but recent treatment options have shown great promise by significantly extending what used to be a 1-3 year life expectancy; and hopefully a cure is on the horizon. Valerie underwent chemo for the first 5 months after diagnosis, and then went on a newly approved immunotherapy, a new class of drugs, late last year. In January, Valerie underwent a Bone Marrow Transplant. This procedure required a 3 week hospital stay and 2 additional months of very limited interactions with friends due to a severely compromised immune system.
Last month, Valerie’s blood tests and bone marrow biopsy results showed no detectable cancer, and she is considered in complete response. However, though we love the word remission, people in this field don't use it because myeloma always comes back after some time; how much time, no one knows. Thus, Valerie started a maintenance drug cocktail this summer which she will stay on for the foreseeable future. Valerie feels and looks great, especially with her current GI Jane hair style, and we know she is fighting as hard as we will swim for her.
We are swimming to show our support for what she has endured and to celebrate her current prognosis! Without your support through Swim Across America and the wonderful other charities working on various cancer treatments and a cure, the monoclonal antibody drug that worked so well for Valerie would not exist. In fact, many of the beneficiaries of SAA’s past grants have gone to institutions at the forefront of treating and developing a cure for Multiple Myeloma, including Dana Farber, Columbia Presbyterian, and Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Please support us by sponsoring our swim and making a gift. You can make a credit card donation by clicking on the Donate Now button at the top right of this page, or send a check to
Swim Across America, PO Box 217, Larchmont, NY 10538.