Cancer is insidious, insipid and indiscriminate. It knows no bounds and no one is immune. Right now I pray each morning for five people I know who are bravely battling the scourge; I am certain that with even a little sleuthing on my part, I could add a few dozen more. If that is you, I am sorry and I salute you.
This past Christmas I lost two dear friends to cancer and it is in their honor that I am attempting to complete END-Wet, the longest swimming race in North America at 36 miles in length. I tried this swim two summers ago with my dear friend Lance Maly kayaking at my side. From a pre- and in-race strategy perspective we did everything possible that could be done wrong and we stopped at mile 24, two-thirds of the way through the race after more than six hours in the water; it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Sadly, Lance is one of the two friends who lost his battle with cancer and I endeavor to finish this year, with his name emblazoned on my cap. The other name on my cap will be that of Tim Daly. When I showed up at the U of MN my freshman year he was a mythic figure. A former state high school champion, he was big, strong and without question the best swimming “racer” I ever saw. He was not a graceful swimmer, instead choosing to thrash the water into submission with a fury. When he passed away on Christmas Eve, he may have been less mythic and forceful physically, but spiritually he was just as vibrant as I remember him being more than 30 years ago.
So too was Lance. His caring and concern for others as he prepared to cross over on January 2nd was humbling, awe-inspiring and a daily lesson on how to die with dignity and grace. Cancer may have robbed both men of their physical stature, vitality and strength, but it did not put even a small dent in their respective toughness, tenacity or tenderness.
I was able to spend some time with each of them in the days leading up to their deaths and am so, so grateful. Tim’s final words to me were, “Love ya’ Danny Boy” and Lance’s much the same (without the Danny Boy). Both men left behind loving, families and countless friends and they died much too young. Lance at 50 and Tim would have been 59 on Father’s Day.
So why do I think I can do this this time, after failing so spectacularly Two years ago? I don’t have a great answer to that question other than I think I want it more this time? And maybe, if I learned anything from my previous failure, I can intelligently avoid the crippling mistakes. I also know that I will have two more Angels in heaven with more than a passing interest in my progress. I will also have a more robust crew alongside me to keep me company, and to keep me motivated.
So I am asking for your support, financial or otherwise. I know you are all barraged with fundraising requests and I have no expectations for any of you. Whether you can give or choose not to will not impact our relationship. I am an adult and don’t give to every request I receive either.
But if you do give you are not giving for me, and frankly you’re not even giving for Lance or for Tim. You are giving for someone YOU know who needs YOUR prayers, blessings, support and whatever dollars you can scrape up to help fund Cancer Research.
As I said at the outset: Cancer Sucks and maybe, just maybe with this effort we can all make it suck just a little less.
- Chris Andersen
- Evonne Carlson
- Maari Endy
- Jill Bergquist
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