Sometimes Cancer feels like treading water….

As the Director of Seas It, I have had the opportunity over the past 10 years to connect with cancer patients and caregivers from all over the country. Recently, I connected with Remi, a young woman battling brain cancer. Both in person and over the phone, I found Remi’s resolve and positive outlook very reminiscent of my late husband’s. I was very touched that Remi shared her thoughts with us on her journey thus far:

Remi learns to swim at NYC's Asphalt Green pool

Remi learns to swim at NYC’s Asphalt Green pool

“With my fiercely independent personality, I’ve always found it difficult to receive anything, whether it be a helping hand, a simple compliment, or a friend wanting to treat a meal. Thus, one of my biggest challenges after my humbling cancer diagnosis at 30 years of age was overcoming the resistance to “inconvenience others” and learning to accept offers of help with grace and humility – and occasionally even asking for help when necessary!

My unexpected cancer journey came with a bunch of pleasant surprises that made life even more purposeful, beautiful and often overwhelming me with gratitude. At the same time, the harsh realities of limited resources (both in terms of finances and sheer energy) are simply just part of the package. Seas It really helped in this regard.

Last fall, I met Amanda at the Stupid Cancer conference and was encouraged to approach her booth by her warm, beaming smile. Her natural ability to connect immediately on a personal level left a pretty lasting impact as she bravely shared her inspiration behind Seas It and Todd’s exemplary fighting spirit. It wasn’t until a few months later that I was finally ready to submit a grant request (my first application to any organization) and through that, I reconnected with Amanda.

I am so glad that I reached out. The swim classes made possible by the grant are fantastic. Any healthy distraction from hospital visits, bills, and insurance companies is definitely welcomed. It’s also a really great way to overcome a lifelong challenge (my inability to tread water) with regular exercise. More importantly, the classes provide me with the motivation to cross an important item off my bucket list – to scuba dive and explore the beauty of marine life.

However, what ultimately resonated with me the most was the process of how we got there. Amanda worked with me to figure out a very individualized plan, since I didn’t have anything specific in mind when I had applied. Her patience, encouragement, and open-mindedness really allowed me to explore several different opportunities (all interesting as I love learning) before we ultimately landed on aquatics. It is not very often that someone challenges you in a positive way to find something rewarding, fun and motivating.

I am so incredibly grateful to both Amanda and the Seas It organization. Thank you on behalf of everyone who has been fortunate enough to experience your very personal, very dedicated bright spot in our otherwise bumpy road.”

– Remi (32 years old, Glioblastoma Multiforme)

Diving in head (and heart) first

It’s not often that our Seas It team gets to meet grant recipients in person. Amanda was lucky enough to meet Marie, a young mother of 4 children and Stage IV Pancreatic cancer patient, this summer.  What struck Amanda the first time she met Marie was her positivity and warm smile. Marie was first diagnosed in 2013 and faced her second bout in 2014. Yes, Marie has cancer. But, cancer certainly hasn’t defined Marie or held her back from embracing life.

With help from her daughter, we realized that a yearly membership to the Aquatic Center at Monmouth University would allow Marie to swim on a regularly basis. Marie was looking for a healthy exercise regime to combat some of the side effects from her treatments: the stiffness, the aches, and the fatigue. Marie was kind enough to share her experiences with us:

“Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. The Seas It foundation you have established in Todd’ s memory has helped others and me fighting cancer. I am a firm believer that his spirit lives in every one of us fighting Cancer. Thank you and SEAS IT for helping me get back to my “old self” or I should say “new normal”. The pool membership is a reminder that I still have a life to live and I have to get stronger in order to live it.”

Marie and her daughter enjoying a night out

Marie and her daughter enjoying a night out