Friends & Family -
Once again I will be swimming in Swim Across America's Long Island Sound Open Water Swim on July 28th to raise money to fund cancer research and a local organization, the Cancer Suppport Team, that provides resources to those fighting cancer and their families. As in years past I will be swimming across LI sound from Morgan's Beach in Glen Cove LI to Larchmont Shore Club in Larchmont NY.
While progress towards a cure (for the many forms of cancer) remains too slow for far too many, tremendous advances have been made. Some of these breakthroughs, immunotherapy for example, have come from research labs such as the Swim Across America Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering directly supported by your contributions. For this, we can't thank you enough but we continue to need your support. The medical community is on the cusp of significant breakthroughs and with your continued donations they will succeed.
Each year our team takes its name in memory of a loved one or friend whose life was cut short by cancer, or in honor of one who is currently fighting for their life. Our hope is that one year we will not have a name. Sadly, this will not be the year, but thankfully we will be swimming in honor and not in memory. This year we swim as Team Valerie in honor of our good friend Valerie Malsch who is bravely fighting Multiple Myeloma.
Valerie, her husband Jeff (who has accompanied us across the Sound in a kayak in past years) and their 4 children are long time members of the Scarsdale community and good friends of many members of our team and we are honored to raise our banner on her behalf. Please read on for a bit more about Valerie and her fight in the words of her husband Jeff.
This year, we swim for Valerie Narins Malsch. Valerie is the mother of three daughters, Sydney, Peyton and Willow, and a son, Hudson. Her husband Jeff has accompanied us across the Sound in a kayak in past years, but the swim and the money raised to fight cancer hit too close to home when Valerie was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in April 2017. 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 Valerie and all those effected by this insidious disease by sponsoring my swim and making a gift. The money you give will make an impact in the fight to find a cure. Thank you for your generosity!