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Swimming to Beat Cancer

Swimmers at a Swim Across America event. Great Falls resident Paula Alford will swim in the Saturday, June 22, event in Stamford, Conn. to raise money for cancer research to defeat her brother's stage four, bile duct carcinoma.

Swimmers at a Swim Across America event. Great Falls resident Paula Alford will swim in the Saturday, June 22, event in Stamford, Conn. to raise money for cancer research to defeat her brother's stage four, bile duct carcinoma.

Paula Alford of Great Falls uses swimming as a weapon. She's a participant in the annual Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford open water swim, slated for Saturday, June 22 in Stamford, Conn. Alford races in the meet not for glory, because she is fast, or even because she wants to win the meet. Her race is a bigger one: against cancer. Alford swims on Team Peter's Defeaters. This is an essay she wrote on why she swims: “Swimming helps me deal with the pain, sorrow and anger I feel knowing my brother, Walt, and others I love are suffering or have suffered with cancer. With virtually no warning, cancer invaded and took over his body. He is diagnosed with stage four, bile duct carcinoma. As the number of people with this cancer is small, only so much is known about it. Treatment options are limited. When I see the resolve, courage, determination and acceptance in my brother’s face and feel it from every fiber in his body, how can I not take what I do, swimming, and make it into a weapon in the war against cancer? My stroke is not the best; my speed is abysmal. (See that sea slug? It’s me!) I don’t care. When I swim, I feel the world with its cancer coasting away. Winning a war is messy and imperfect. Many battles are lost. Many die. Our lives and the world as we know it are changed forever, sometimes beyond recognition. And yet, we carry on. We use whatever arsenal of weapons we have (wetsuit please!) as we strive to do something for those we love. And if we join forces, we will win. So, with deep respect and admiration for my brother, I swim to raise money for research in the hope that one day his cancer will be understood and prevented. I swim because I want my brother to know that win or lose, his family is doing our best to help and support him. Most of all, I want to show him in my own way just how very much I love him. As I swim, I see him before me laughing and healthy again. And that makes me cry and smile through the bubbles my breath creates with each stroke. Peace and love to you, Walt. Peace and love to all who have or are fighting cancer. And…we will win the war.” Swim Across America holds multiple swimming events every year. Swimmers, boaters, kayakers and land volunteers--all who have a drive to beat cancer—are encouraged to register at www.swimmacrossamerica.org/greenwich.