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Breast Cancer Donation

November 5, 2007

It has been awhile since I’ve made any posting.  I am letting my shoulders heal while I learn to run.  To all swimmers, be careful of the promises you make to others.  And, I’m not sure if anyone is still reading this, but there is something important that I have to say about my English Channel swim. 


During this whole process, I was overwhelmed by the support of friends, family and fellow swimmers.  At first this was a solo journey, and I learned from your comments that many of you joined me.  I surrendered to your kindness and love, and it was good.  I was even more taken aback when people started offering monetary donations.  I decided that if people were willing to put money towards my dream, I should use some of it and give some to others. In that way others’ dreams might be realized.  


Since breast cancer has been prevalent in my family and among my friends, it was the natural place to put additional monetary resources.  I also had worked as a lab care technician at the University of Minnesota towards a breast cancer cure before my IT life.  It was a cause that was near and dear to me…wait it wasn’t dear to me, it upset me and I wanted to do something to help fight the damn disease.   After a particular late August (August 23 to be exact) conversation with my mother,  I am fighting even harder.    


Two weeks before I left for England, my parents who live in Minnesota came to Portland to help me with my split Channel training.   They needed to learn how to make my food and I needed company on two very, very long days of training.  My mom came out early to help me with some incidentals like cleaning my house and making dinner.  I was living in a mess and eating boxed mac’ n cheese.  (Note:  This is not the ideal training diet).  One evening I was working particularly late and my mom kept pestering me to have a talk.  I thought the talk was going to be about what was for dinner or the weekend training schedule. I had not thought about either and only wanted to lounge in my chair and not think.  I finally finished my work, collapsed in my chair and surrendered to the “what’s for dinner?” talk.    And, Mom began talking softly:

Mom – “I have something to tell you.”

Me (thinking internally) – Odd way to start a dinner conversation.

Mom – “I went to the doctor last week.”

Me (still thinking internally) – What does this have to do with dinner?

Mom – “They ran some tests on a lump. I have breast cancer.  It will be OK Michelle.  It will be OK.”

Me (still confused about the ‘what’s for dinner conversation’) – “Excuse me?”

Mom – “I have cancer.”

Me…well basically there isn’t much to say I felt the jolt and I turned into a big puddle.  I was upset and angry and so very sad.  Mom’s aren’t supposed to get sick.  They are supposed to hold you when you cry; help you when you are sick; and, tell you they love you when you are being ugly and nasty, even after you have long since moved away.  They are the MOMs.  That’s their job!  I know it must have just killed my mom to tell my brother, sister and me that she was sick.   I know that she even debated about whether to tell me before the swim as I was soon to leave for England.  She didn’t want me to concentrate on her illness when I had to focus on the mental challenge of the Channel. 

I’m glad she told me as swimming is my way of dealing with issues.  And heck, I was going to have plenty of time to battle not only the Channel, but also my mom’s news.  As you all know, the Channel swim went very well and my crew did well too.  Mom is strong and determined.


Since returning from England, I’ve been researching breast cancer foundations.  There are many with some being very large.  However, I knew that I wanted the money to go to a smaller organization that focused on breast cancer research.  Turns out I didn’t have to look very far.  My old employer the University of Minnesota Cancer Center is just that place.  I knew from working there that they were respected in the research community.  They are one of 39 research facilities recognized by the National Cancer Institute.  I knew first hand that they respected and treated their patients as individuals.   Besides now my mom was one of their patients. 


Of the $2000.00 raised from your donations for my swim, I have donated $1250.00 to the University of Minnesota Cancer Center to be earmarked for breast cancer research.   With the my company match, the center will receive a total $2500.00 for research.  The remainder of your generous donations were used to cover some of the the costs of my crew during the England stay.  


Thank you to everyone for your donations.  With your help, we will make a difference. 


For more information about the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, please visit their website


P.S.  My mom’s prognosis is very good.  She has a great doctor and a great attitude.  I believe that she will make good on her promise to alternately make my life miserable and hold me for a very long time…something that I’m looking forward to every minute. 

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