The Bright Water Challenge

Thank you for visiting my fundraising page.  My sister, Catherine Hackett, is an avid sailor whose retirement dreams have been to return to Oriental, NC and use it as a base from which she and her husband can cruise.   A year or two ago, they bought a sailboat large enough to call home and named her Bright Water.  As Cathy’s retirement approached, they sold their house and made preparations for the big move to a new and exciting life.

Between 2010 and the start of 2020, my sister has undergone seven surgeries for oral cancer.  She is one of the minority for whom there is no currently identified cause.  She has undergone pain and discomfort with a grace and fortitude that astounds me.  She oversaw the care of my elderly parents through much of this time while running her own business as a neuromuscular massage therapist.  To say that she is tough is an understatement.

Covid-19 has impacted us all, but I think an often unseen and unreported aspect of this pandemic has been the impact it has had on people who have existing health issues.  Just at the time when we all began our lockdown, Cathy discovered another lesion.  Delays in schedule for biopsy and surgery allowed the cancer to progress and her surgery in early May included a tongue reconstruction and neck dissection.  Within a week, she was home and a few weeks later, she was moving forward with her life. Astonishing.  

A few weeks ago, she discovered another worrying lesion.  Once again, it’s cancer and once again all of her plans and dreams go on hold as she prepares for more surgery (her 9th), radiation and possibly chemotherapy treatment.  Hard enough in the normal world.  A whole other story in 2020.

For me, the hardest part of all of this has been my inability to be with her.  I live in England, around 3000 miles away.  That is where this challenge comes in.

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a resource which provides information, support, research funding and advocacy.  As they say on their website: “With our mouth we eat and drink what sustains us. With it, we communicate ideas and feelings to the world through speech or a simple smile. It allows us to taste the nuance of a fine wine, the sweetness of a freshly picked berry, or mustard covered hot dog at the ballpark. Love or passion is expressed by it when we kiss a loved one or child. When cancer affects our mouths, it does more than take away these everyday functions, it too often takes our lives. Through increased public and professional awareness, prevention through lifestyle changes, early detection initiatives, education, improved treatment modalities, and sponsorship of research, the Oral Cancer Foundation’s mission is to contribute to the reduction of suffering permanent physical damage and disfigurement, and death caused by this disease.”

By joining their Oral Cancer National Virtual Fundraiser 2020, I can walk, run or bike to help raise funds for this cause.  I have chosen to bike and have set myself a challenge of cycling 200 miles with at least 15,000 feet of ascent during the course of August.  My training has already begun and as I progress, my goals may increase.  These are just a starting point and I will update as my strength and stamina improve.  Anything which you can donate towards my fundraiser will be greatly appreciated.  You can give a set amount or, if you want to sponsor me per mile, you can wait to see how many miles I cycle and donate at the end of August.  I'll be posting my updates on Facebook with the hashtags: #oralcancervirtual  #OCF2020.  And if you feel inclined to join Team Bright Water, I would be very humbled.  Thank you for coming to my page and I thank you for your support.

--Claire M. H. Pettingale

Comments