Back on the bike! 

Recently, Seas It had the pleasure of working with Kathy, a breast and lung cancer patient and overall badass, who used her Seas It grant to get back out on the trails and start exercising again in the fresh open air of North Carolina. With help from our good friends at The Peddler in Long Branch, NJ we were able to get Kathy an awesome Specialized Cyclocross Bike

Below, Kathy has shared her thoughts on the bike and her recovery experiences thus far. Thanks for providing us all with some much needed inspiration, Kathy, and keep fighting the good fight! 

 “The bike is amazing. It is light, quick and tough enough for the terrain. I can shift way down for hills and make it up them. It makes all the difference.  It is an amazingly beautiful time of year to ride. Here in the south, the fall colors are at their peak and temperatures range from 50-70 degrees. As a single mom, I have given up so much and then when the cancer hit twice (breast and lung…two primaries..and then the breast metastasized) it was/is like an endurance test of faith, hope and community (my family and friends who come to doctors appointments with me and hope and fear as much as I do). I don’t have to tell you about the emotional and physical toll (not to mention financial) of surgeries, drugs, and test results. Taking this bike into the woods, riding the trail, I truly can leave things behind or cry and feel completely embraced by the beauty that surrounds me. I also love the thrill of the ride and physical challenge of making it up a steep knotted trail without stopping or falling off (which I do quite a bit in the sand!). The other great aspect of this bike is that I can use it as a road bike and they have weekly rides from 10-40 miles on Sundays and meet up afterwords at a pub. I am excited to meet a whole other group of people. This is something that is all mine that I LOVE: no sacrifices, no pain (except the good kind when you push your muscles to fatigue) just joy. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for having the vision, insight and follow through to make Seasit! a reality. This bike gives me so much…the great outdoors, a new community, physical strength and endurance and the feeling of accomplishment.” 

Thanks again, Kathy! We can’t wait to hear more about your incredible journey.  


Namaste to you, Michelle…

As a someone who practiced yoga intensively while my husband, Todd, endured his 8 year long battle against cancer, I always have a sense of connection to the Grant Recipients who request yoga classes.

When Todd was first diagnosed back in 2004, I found a yoga class that provided me a physical and mental well being that was so necessary for a Caregiver. In fact, it is because of my experience with yoga that Seas It created the Caregiver Grant Program in addition to our Patient Grant Program. After all, if I wasn’t in a good place physically or mentally, how could I take care of Todd?

80% of the Patient and Caregiver Grant Requests we receive are for yoga classes or yoga studio memberships. That’s a very high percentage and speaks volumes to how beneficial yoga can be for cancer patients and caregivers.

Recently, Michelle, a young woman battling breast cancer, came to me with her Patient Grant Application. When we first chatted, Michelle wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do with her Seas It Grant. We talked about a few ideas but we kept going back to yoga. She found great comfort in taking classes at Shore Point Fitness Yoga. We discussed the benefits of yoga especially during and in between chemotherapy treatments. With help from Sarah and Jennifer at Shore Point Fitness, Seas It was able to provide Michelle with a year of yoga classes.

I was so thrilled to receive this photo of Michelle today. Michelle – you are looking strong and radiant and we are in your corner! Thank you for sharing your story with us and allowing Seas It to help you.

Jennifer, Michelle, and Sarah


A Mother’s Grant

Melissa and PhoebeWe wanted to give a shout out to Melissa, an incredible mother who is battling breast cancer. Melissa was staying at Mary’s Place by the Sea, a respite home from women receiving treatment for cancer, when she first learned of Seas It and our Grant Program. Shortly after returning from her restorative visit to Mary’s Place, we received Melissa’s grant application. Melissa was eager to stay active and positive during her treatments but wasn’t sure which activity would be best for her. She thought about cooking classes, yoga classes, gym membership, and dance class. The common thread in each activity was that she wanted to find something that she and her daughter, Phoebe, could enjoy together. Melissa not only works full time but she is also undergoing cancer treatments, volunteering at a Cancer center, and raising a beautiful daughter.  Needless to say. Melissa’s free time is very limited but it was extremely important that she spend her free time with her daughter.

Thanks to the kind people at Club Metro Fitness in Fort Lee, Seas It was able to purchase a family membership for six months for Melissa and Phoebe. They have enjoyed the time together working on a common goal of staying active and enjoying one another’s company. We love seeing how strong they both look in the face of adversity. Keep it up, Melissa and Phoebe!

Phoebe

Phoebe Seas-ing It!

Melissa

What a strong and courageous Mom!


From Swimming in the Water to Watercolors!

Since November is National Caregivers Month, we thought it would be nice to share Justin’s recent Seas It Caregiver Grant. We met Justin through his fiancée, Remi. Remi has been battling Glioblastoma Multiforme but hasn’t let her brain tumor get in the way of staying active. Over the summer with her Seas It Grant, Remi learned to swim and had a blast. (Read more about Remi here: Sometimes Cancer Feels Like Treading Water.)

With Remi’s encouragement, Justin applied for a grant. He wanted to try something he had never done before (this is a theme for this couple!). Justin also wanted to find something fun he could do with Remi. We found an amazing watercolor teacher, Joan Iocanetti, who gave Remi and Justin art lessons for six weeks this summer. They enjoyed their art lessons tremendously and loved the quality time together. We were so happy to receive this beautiful picture of Remi and Justin. In her email, Remi wrote:

“Last night we went out to celebrate a good scan (had my latest MRI yesterday with stable results!!!) as well as our five year anniversary so we figured that since we were in a celebratory mood and uncharacteristically dolled up, we’d capture that in a photo for you 🙂 We can’t thank you enough for your support and love.”

SeasItWatercolor

Congratulations on the great test results, Remi! You both look amazing. Keep fighting the good fight!


A Goal Oriented Grant

Kelly, a young woman from Maine battling Breast Cancer, applied for a Seas It Grant with a specific goal in mind. She was hoping to train and build up strength and endurance so that her chemo and radiation treatments wouldn’t stand in the way of her upcoming 5k run. Seas It provided Kelly with a family membership to her local YMCA. We were delighted when Kelly wrote us after completing her 5k:

Whisker Walk 1

“The Y has been wonderful. During the first several days following chemo, it’s all I can do to muster up enough energy to get dressed. But, on my off weeks, it’s so nice to have a clean place to go to ride a bike, run/jog/walk on the treadmill or row. I am extremely grateful for my Y membership…for the obvious health and wellness benefits, but I truly think it helped minimize some of the side effects during and after chemo and surgery. It’s also helped to keep me physically and mentally strong throughout this ordeal.”

Way to go, Kelly! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. You got this.


Working out and on a mission…

Last fall, Amanda had the pleasure of meeting Jackie, a young New Yorker battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, at a conference for young adults organized by the good folks at Stupid Cancer.

Jackie came up the Seas It table with determination in her eyes and we knew we would be hearing from her again soon. Jackie explained that one of her biggest hurdles is dealing with the chronic fatigue and painful side effects from her recent stem cell transplant.

However, after nearly a year of some really intense treatments and obstacles, Jackie felt like she finally had the strength and energy to focus on getting back into physical shape again and applied for a Patient Grant.

Seas It was lucky enough to find Arlene, an awesome personal trainer, who has experience working on the physical goals of people undergoing and recovering from cancer treatments. Arlene and Amanda worked together to find a proper training regimen for Jackie. Because of Jackie’s stem cell transplant, she is unable to work out in a gym or outdoors. Arlene agreed that some personal training sessions in Jackie’s home would give Jackie some renewed energy, increase her physical strength, and rebuild some lost muscle mass.

As you can tell from the picture below, Jackie and Arlene make a great team. Thank you, Jackie, for choosing to Seas It! You’re an inspiration to us all.

Arlene and Jackie looking awesome in their Seas It training shirts!


Powering through with Positive Psychology

Amanda, a young woman from New York City battling Stage IV Melanoma, was interested in learning how to incorporate nutrition and positivity into her intense treatment plan. Thanks to a wonderful partnership with Kayleigh Pleas, Seas It was able to provide Amanda with a six-week enrollment into Kayleigh’s Positive Psychology Coaching Classes. Amanda had an amazing experience attending the course and shared her grant experience with Seas It:

 

“My Stage IV cancer diagnosis left me feeling anxious and out of control of what was happening in my body. While I felt physically strong through my treatment, I sometimes struggle with all of the emotions and frustrations that come along with cancer. The Positive Psychology coaching that Seas It provided for me, helped me to focus on my overall wellbeing not just the current state of my body. It gave me the tools to continue to fight and heal. I am so grateful to Amanda and her incredible vision for Seas It. She was able to identify my biggest hurdles in coping with my illness and give me the guidance to remain mindful and positive.”

Amanda Snyder

We know Amanda has a long road ahead of her but we are confident that with her incredible attitude and mental strength, she will overcome any obstacle that comes her way.


The Persian New Year!

Today we had the pleasure of delivering two bikes to Ava, a young woman battling Stage IV T Cell Lymphoma. Ava and her father applied for a Patient & Caregiver Grant in order to stay as active as possible before her upcoming transplant. Ava’s oncology and physical therapy teams at Sloan Kettering highly recommended biking as a great place for Ava to start. We couldn’t agree more! We worked with Ava for the past few weeks and realized that a folding, city bike would be the best way to go. She and her dad could ride the bikes to Sloan for Ava’s treatments. The folding option gives Ava the ability to hop on a bus or subway with ease in case her treatments leave her a little tired.

When we met Ava and her dad today, their smiles were so radiant it was completely contagious. They shared with us that today is the Persian New Year. They see today and their new bikes from Seas It as a new beginning.

bikedemo

Amanda shows Ava and her dad how to fold their new bikes

 

We wish Ava and her dad all the best. And, if you happen to be on the Upper East Side of New York City be on the lookout for two beautiful people on awesome bikes.

Amanda&Ava

A special thanks to Mike at The Peddler in Long Branch, NJ for always being so accommodating when working with Amanda and Seas It to fulfill Seas It’s Patient and Caregiver Grants!


Stretching. Strengthening. Surviving!

Janet, a native of Southern California, has been battling Stage 2 Astrocytoma Brain Cancer for four years. With encouragement from her oncology team at Cedar-Sinai, Janet applied for a Patient Grant. Building up her balance and core strength was crucial to Janet. We decided that Pilates would be the best fit for Janet. Thanks to the wonderful people at Seven Oaks Physical Therapy & Fitness Center, we were able to maximize Janet’s grants by providing private Pilates classes for her. She loves the classes and her teacher Jackie. Kudos to Janet for choosing to embrace wellness over illness!

JanetPilates


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)