I am dedicating my swim to the memory of Bruce Baird, who died in 1992. This year’s swim will be nearly 20 years (25 now) to the day of the final day in his battle. I met Bruce Baird before my senior year of high school had ended. He was asking me why I thought I might make a good lifeguard. I don’t recall what I told him.
Bruce was Chief of the Laguna Beach Lifeguard Department for the majority of the years I worked there. He would have been my Chief for my entire nine years in Laguna had he not succumbed to cancer and its treatments. He taught lifesaving in very unique ways…I should correct myself. He taught me about myself in very unique ways.
Imagine the first day I encountered large surf: thick tall walls of water crashing over onto shallow sand bars and rocky reefs, near cliffs with no easy exit. Imagine the same day being told to “Get in.”
There was no one in the water in need of saving that I could see.
Bruce wasn’t looking at the same water as I was. I didn’t know it then, but he was looking at the water in the future, that would have someone in it in need. I needed to “get in” now, so I would be ready later. Simple. Of course, it is only simple while looking back. While looking forward at that moment, there was only fear.
From lifeguarding, after a brief period of not being certain where to go next, I moved into the healthcare arena as a clinical pharmacist, training at University of California, San Francisco. I do remember responding to the question what would make me a good pharmacist:
I know how to save lives in the ocean, and I know I can learn to do it in medicine, as well.
I worked for Kaiser Permanente and University of Colorado Hospital in the Denver area for nearly ten years before I started working for a pharmaceutical company in Medical Affairs. I remember telling them that I know how to help individuals get the best medicine they need, and that I know I can help even more individuals by working with their company on a much larger scale
I now work for a company developing treatments in Oncology. I support a clinical trial program in ten states, and listen to researchers that have ideas outside of our own program. I advocate for their work. I know I am currently helping more people than I have ever helped before.
But the work is frustrating. I know of no therapy that helps every person that uses it. There are exciting advances in our search for a cure, and there are disappointments. Sometimes I fear that the disappointments outweigh the advances.
I swim to ease the disappointments. I swim because I know I have to “Get in.”
I swim for Bruce, who taught me much about not being afraid.
I have jumpstarted this year's campaign with a donation that will be matched by my employer. Please take advantage of any matching donation programs your employers may have.
When staring up at the thick tall dark waves that are cancer, these dollars might seem too small an effort. They aren’t! They represent each of us, “Getting in.” Together our efforts create significant war chests that can be used to target cancer. Regardless of your participation in this event, please take with you that to help, you have to “Get in.”
You can make a credit card donation here, or send a check to Swim Across America, c/o Anthony DuComb, 1684 8th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122. Check should be made out to Swim Across America but please include a note mentioning my name as the swimmer you are supporting!