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Why the Swim?

March 14, 2023

By Glenn Carlson, Boat Captain

My family’s involvement in the Swim began in 2016 after my mom passed from pancreatic cancer. She was initially diagnosed in the late 2000s and was deemed in remission in 2011. She was gifted 5 additional years before the cancer came back in 2016. She was officially re-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Easter, March 27, 2016, and passed on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016.

The Swim supported her and our family with medication, care, transportation and hospice care. We had the desire to give back. Donations were and are key, but I felt something was missing, so I visited the Swim webpage and noticed the call for boats, boat captains and crew. My son and I signed up and we have participated in each Swim since then, trailering our boat from Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire to Bridgeport, CT.

We love being out on the water and have served as a perimeter, rover, escort and even a tow boat. As Paul Harvey would say … The Rest of the Story … My experience with cancer support groups began in 1993 when I was stationed at Castle AFB, CA as a B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer. One of the airmen at Castle had a child who was diagnosed with leukemia and at the next blood drive on the base, they asked folks to consider joining the bone marrow donor registry. Both my wife and I donated blood and joined the registry.

Fast forward to 1999. I received a phone call from the CW Bill Young Foundation informing me that I was a potential match for a cancer patient. After much bloodwork, a physical and an interview at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC; I was informed that I was THE match. The Air Force supported my desire and decision to donate, and the CW Bill Young Foundation provided resources for my wife and me to travel from Montgomery, AL to Washington DC for the donation and for her mom to fly from Las Vegas, NV to Alabama to watch our son.

The donation was successful and five years after the donation we met my recipient Nick, a true cowboy and oilman from Texas. Nick had battled cancer three times before the bone marrow donation. Nine years later his body began to reject my marrow so I donated stem cells. Nick lived another nine years before the cancer took his life in 2018.

Cancer is an awful disease that has taken too many lives of family, friends, recipients, and fellow servicemen and women. Organizations like the Swim provide direct and essential resources to patients and their families making life more comfortable and easing the pain and stress of cancer, and that is why I support the Swim.

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