Thursday, 20 March 2014

Charity Challenge Week - Swim Across America with Karen Chilton Forber

Today, as part of Charity Challenge week, author Karen Chilton Forber shares the very emotional story behind her Swim Across America fund raising....

My first experience with the death of a loved one came courtesy of cancer.  I had just turned twelve when I learned my Nana had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be having a double mastectomy.  In other words, while I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my breasts, my Nana would be losing hers.And while it was odd to see her without her breasts, she would ultimately lose far more.  After battling valiantly, my Nana lost her life.  She was only 60. She was the first of too many people I lost to cancer.  And too often I've cried with friends suffering similar losses.  Cancer is brutal and unsparing, claiming its victim by painful degrees.  It just plain sucks.

Today, though, there is good news about cancer.  Early diagnosis and more effective treatments are saving lives.  I have three friends who are currently celebrating more than a decade cancer-free, and others who have every reason to hope they will hit that milestone, too - and then keep going.  These improvements are the direct result of tireless fundraising, and every chance I have to help raise money to wipe out cancer, I am on it.

In 2013, I was thrilled when I was asked to contribute a story to Merry Chick Lit  - Celebrate the Season With Six Sassy Shorts.  This compilation features holiday-themed short stories from a great group of chick lit authors:  Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, Sarah Hitchcock, Francine LaSala, Nikki Mahood, Holly Martin.  I was very happy to keep such talented company, and better still, ALL of the proceeds from sales of this Kindle exclusive e-book go to New York- based breast cancer charity Rocking the Road for a Cure.
Now, with the holiday season past, and with spring (hopefully) approaching, I'm looking forward to another opportunity to kick cancer's ass: Swim Across America.  This one-mile open water swim began with a single fundraising event in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1987 and has grown to include dozens of events nationwide.  

Annually, over 5,000 swimmers now participate, and to date, Swim Across America has raised over $45 million for cancer research, treatment, support and prevention.  I take part in the Rhode Island swim, and it's tough to ignore that the course is in waters where sharks - including Great Whites - have increasingly been spotted over the years.  

My imagination could easily drift to scenes from Jaws, if not for my awareness of the reason I'm swimming. My Nana was everything a grandmother should be. She hosted countless sleepovers where she’d tuck me in and send me off to sleep with “angel kisses” planted lightly all over my face - the absolute best way to drift into sweet dreams.  She’d let me have Cookie Crisp or Lucky Charms for breakfast.  She felt a swim in the pool was an acceptable alternative to a bath.  She could stop me from behaving badly with a single glance, and she could relieve the greatest of hurts with a hug.This year, once again, I will write her name on my swim cap - along with the names of countless others lost to cancer - with a sort of wistful pride.  I will brave surf and sea creatures because, frankly, that's nothing compared to the bravery exhibited by cancer patients.After her mastectomy, my Nana showed me her scars where her breasts had once been.  She told me they didn’t hurt.  But I’ll tell you this. It hurt like hell to lose her.

How can you help?
*Get involved or show your financial support via Swim Across America 
* Buy the Merry Chick Lit  ebook- all funds to charity

About Karen:

Find out more about Karen and her books on her website

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