Over the past few years I have tried to convey to you, through these e-mails, what SWIM ACROSS AMERICA means to me and why it is such an important part of my year. Sometimes, though, it has been the words of others who better convey how cancer can alter the course of a life, in the blionk of an eye.
I received the below e-mail a few weeks ago and put into perspective, much better than I, why supporting SAA is so vitaly important to so many.
A couple years ago a mutual friend of ours sent me your annual solicitation for Swim Across America. The e-mail was the story of parents getting the terrible news about the prognosis for their daughter’s cancer while they walked around the Central Park Boat Pond. I remember being in tears as I read it and thinking/hoping that your note would raise enough money that NO parent would ever have to go through what these poor parents did.
Well, despite the fact that we don’t know each other, I thought my story might evoke the same response and, hopefully, put an end to this terrible disease; this is my story.
The weekend of June 17th, 2016 on Nantucket was the kind of weekend I had prayed (essentially begged) God for; mid 70’s, not a cloud in the sky, simply incredible weather. I had been planning my wedding for the better part of a year and, more than anything else, my concern was that the famous Nantucket fog would prevent my guests from arriving on Island; not a single flight didn’t get in.
Friday night we had an incredible Rehearsal Dinner at the Great Harbor Yacht Club with all the heart-felt & funny toasts (most of them relatively sober and PG-13) that any soon-to-be-married couple could hope for. We followed our time at Great Harbor by walking into town and, what I thought was going to be, a private party in the back room at Cru (the old Rope Walk). Well, when we got there, the room was full of people and the hostess seemed to have no idea what we were talking about. The after-party was being taken care of by my (only) sister and to say I was upset, might have been the understatement of the year. 60 of us stood on the dock outside the restaurant, unsure of our next move, when my Dad said, “let me figure this out, but in the meantime, let’s head out to the end of the dock and grab a group picture.” Out I trudged to the end of the dock, to put on a fake smile, for a picture I didn’t want to take, when from the back of this HUGE yacht came a voice, “you guys looking for someplace to go?” I looked at my Dad & sister and they were beaming, THIS was our after-party! The yacht was incredible, 200+ feet, 2 bars, a pool, helipad, lots of crew serving drinks and appetizers, great music; it exceeded my wildest dreams!
The rest of the weekend was kind of a blur, but incredible and along the same lines; one special surprise after another culminating with, a completely unexpected, private plane back to CT on Monday (it’s tough to get a flight to Australia (our honeymoon destination) from Nantucket ).
Tuesday morning came awfully quickly and, despite how incredibly tired I was, I was excited to head out on my honeymoon and really begin my life as a married woman. Tom, who we affectionately call “the tedious traveler” because he likes to be at the airport hours early, was up, showered, and downstairs before I even left the sheets. I got myself together, put on my (really cute) travelling outfit and joined Tom and my parents for breakfast. I remember thinking to myself, as I came down the front steps and peered toward the front door, “that’s strange, I would have thought “tedious Tom” would have had our bag ready-to-go sitting by the front door.”
I entered the breakfast room and immediately knew there was something very wrong; my parent’s eyes were red, as if they’d been crying (over the cost of the wedding?) and Tom just didn’t look like someone about to go on the trip of a lifetime. I began to sit and Tom said, “let’s go into the family room.” My worst nightmare didn't compare to the next words out of Tom's mouth:
“Sweetheart, please let me say what I have to say…… the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and preparation for a wedding weekend, that most will remember, as one of the best ever. A few weeks ago, your sister went to the doctors because she hadn’t been feeling well for some time and she did not receive good news. Because it was so close to the wedding, she felt the news could wait as it would cast a shadow over such a special weekend. Your sister has cancer and it’s not good…….We’re not going to Australia, I thought it better you spend the next couple weeks with her”
I thought I was going to pass out. My sister, 26 years old, sick? Cancer? How sick could she be, I had just spent the past 5 days with her, almost every minute of every day, she seemed OK to me (but had I really taken notice?) I looked up to see my Dad holding my Mom, who was sobbing on his shoulder, and he holding himself up leaning against the door jam. That was the moment that I knew the situation was dire……..
June 18th was the most magical day of my life and exactly one month later, on July 18th, I sat in my sister’s bedroom, holding her hand as the Good Lord came to take her home. Life can be cruel, but cancer can be crueler! I’ve spent most of this past year trying to wrap my head around the best & worst month of my life last summer.
Mark, your dedication to SAA, I know, is making an incredible difference in so many people’s lives, many of those who will never realize that it is the research which SAA supports which is saving the lives of their loved ones. My sister is gone and there is nothing which will bring her back or take away this pain, but my hope is that the support I, Tom, & my parents will give you will lessen the chances that others will experience the same tragedy our family has.
Thank you for all you are doing to finally defeat cancer.
All my best, Kaitlyn
These are the stories, these are the people, these are the reasons I swim in SWIM ACROSS AMERICA. For 16 years now I have been coming to you to ask for your support of me in the fight against cancer and this year, the fight goes on and I come again. It may be that I am getting older or maybe just more aware, but the stories of cancer and who it affects seems to become more prevalent as the years go on.
Swim Across America is an incredible organization which has raised over $10,000,000 since its inception 25 years ago. Team Clare, the team I swim for and named after my cousin, Clare Reynolds Joyce, who died of cancer at the age of 41, has raised over $1,000,000 of that $15,000,000. So, in reality, it is YOU who have raised all that money and I and the thousands of cancer survivors who have benefitted from the cutting edge treatments it has funded could not be more thankful.
I understand that we are still in a terrible economy, but even the smallest donation will truly make a difference in the battle against this disease. I ask that you support me and Team Clare by clicking on the link below or sending a check to me made out to SWIM ACROSS AMERICA.
All tax deductible contributions can be made by clicking the link below or by sending a check made out to SWIM ACROSS AMERICA to me at the address below:
I don’t really have much more to say, the above e-mail says it all. Each year those of us who swim do our little part so that those who are literally in the “fight of their lives” can fight the good fight. I hope you will consider supporting me and TEAM CLARE again this year so we can take one step closer to finally defeating this insidious disease and never again having a sister say goodbye to to her only sibling and best friend.
My sincerest appreciation for your friendship and support.
Have a wonderful summer