I don’t know what to do so I’m doing this, I’m writing. I am consumed by that horrible, helpless feeling that comes when someone you love is suffering and there is nothing you can do to stop it. I can stand here from across the country and connect with other people in her life and let her know that we are praying for her, thinking of her, crying for her, loving her, and staying present for her as much as we possibly can at this difficult time. I want to honor my friend Beth and let her know how loved she is by so many people. I want her to know what an impact she has had on this horrible disease. She has educated so many about the realities of metastatic breast cancer. She has bravely shared her story, time, DNA, brilliant mind and so much more to help prevent others from suffering as she has. I want her to know what an impact she has had on me. Her fierce, unwavering determination and dedication to do as much as we can as fast as we can to eradicate MBC energizes me every step of the way in fighting for this cause. So many of her brilliant ideas have helped shaped how I think about the disease and how we need to research and fund it. Beth thinks big but then she takes the time to attend to details and to people. She has no ego, no stake in any of it. Beth has known for some time that she would not benefit from the research and advocacy she has done so much to advance. Yet, even in her darkest hours, her most painful moments, she is still churning out ideas, emails, phone calls to help prevent others from experiencing this suffering. She is one of those rare individuals who is not only beloved by the entire MBC community and beyond, but she is truly revered. She is universally respected and admired as well as loved – and that is no small thing.
I went swimming the other day at an indoor pool. I mean really swimming – like actual laps – not just wading my cankles in to cool off kind of swimming. I thought of Beth the whole time. I hadn’t swam laps in years, but my doctors keep recommending it because of the severe joint pain I have caused by the cancer meds. As I eased into the rhythmic breathing and movements of my limbs gliding through the soft water – it occurred to me how much this sport – that she loved so much – suited Beth. Swimming is a tough sport. You have to be strong. You have to work at it to build stamina. You have to be dedicated. You have to know how to stay afloat and move at the same time. You have to multi-task – breathe, move, rotate, kick, pull, flip, push and glide. It is silent and often solitary – although Beth formed an incredible camaraderie with her swimming pals with whom she has strong and unbreakable bonds. You have to think, or deliberately not think as there are few distractions. You have to be self-reliant, driven, disciplined and self-motivated. It is for people with strong minds, bodies and hearts. Someone like Beth.
I don’t know what to do, but I know that I want to let Beth know all of these things that I think about her. I want her husband Dave, and her parents and her family to know all of this and more, what so many others think about our beloved Beth Calabotta.
I asked a small group of people in the MBC community who know and love Beth as I do, to each give me a word to describe her. This is what I got back…
Beth Calabotta believed in me and in The Cancer Couch from its infancy. She encouraged me, helped me, rallied around this foundation, and played a huge role in getting us where we are today and where we are going. Beth generously donated the funds from her annual Beth Calabotta Swim Challenge to The Cancer Couch. Planning is already underway for this year’s swim, not only in Illinois, but also here in CT – my sister and her amazing crew in Cheshire are hosting a Beth Calabotta Swim Challenge in her honor. If you would like more information on hosting a swim challenge of your own for The Cancer Couch in Beth’s honor, or participating in one, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. A portion of the proceeds from all the swim challenges will go back to the fund set up in Beth’s name at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois as an angel fund to help MBC patients in financial need. A brick is also being placed in the garden there in Beth’s honor.
Beth, you make me want to swim.
You make me want to never stop fighting for MBC funding and advocacy.
You make me want to be a better person.
Thank you for giving all of us a shining example of the very best a human being can be.
I love YOU to the moon and back my friend.