Breast Cancer Survivors:
Swing for Life would love to hear from all of you brave women and families.
We would invite all of you to attend our events that are scheduled on the website.
Swing for Life is making incredible strides in community service by raising money for research in hopes of finding a cure.
Please send your story toKathy's Story:
One of the greatest lessons and gifts I have learned is, life is not to be taken for granted! Live each day with no regrets and enjoy the sunshine, because none of us know what our future brings.
Diagnosed with breast cancer on August 24, 2002. I under-went lumpectomy surgery on September 3rd, followed by six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation treatments. This life changing series of events could have been devastating and often is; however, I chose not to let it!
I coach volleyball and softball at the high school level and after my diagnosis, my athletes chose to wear pink ribbons with my name to every practice and game. They were committed to wearing them until I beat the cancer. My sixth graders begged to wear my wig and watching their reaction to a bald head relieved me of ever wearing it again. Their support meant the world to me and partially because of the kids, I missed only thirteen days of school through my surgery, 6 months of chemotherapy, and seven weeks of radiation.
Instead, I vowed to do whatever I could to help in the battle against this number one cancer killer of women. In April of 2003, only eight months after my diagnosis and while still involved in chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I organized a “strike out cancer hit-a-thon” to raise money to donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure. The RHSM softball team rallied around me, as did three public schools in the state, and $12,000 was donated to the Foundation that first year. In the 2004 hit-a-thon, my efforts were to involve as many young people as possible in this endeavor, we involved students from seven public schools and were able to raise a total of $22,000 for breast cancer research. In 2005 & 2006, 20 more school softball teams joined the efforts and over $24,000 was again donated to the Komen Foundation.
My passion for this project led to the establishment of what in 2007 became known as “Swing for Life, Inc.”, a not for profit organization whose annual mission is to host fund-raising hit-a-thon events to raise money for breast cancer research, with 100% of the dollars raised donated to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Over 40 high school softball and baseball teams from public schools across Utah participated in 2007, raising $75,000, $10,000 of which went to the Wellness Center at the Huntsman Cancer Institute where cancer patients go to get their physical side back, the remainder donated to cancer research at Huntsman. This year’s event was just as successful, with hundreds of students from 45 public and private schools participating, all of them excited to be involved in this cause, proud to collect their pledges and submit their donations. Our grand total in the six years is $215,000 for breast cancer research!
As long as I can, I will keep building this foundation until we find a cure. Every year we enlists more and more teams and sponsors who make monetary donations directly to Swing for Life or donate merchandise or gift certificates that I then uses as door prizes to help make the hit-a-thon event even more fun for the participants. I organize student volunteers who take on a myriad of jobs that need to be completed in order for the hit-a-thon to succeed. Determined to make the opening ceremonies of the Swing for Life event special, I also involve the local media, and have even been able to enlist the help of the Jazz Bear, Bumble the Bee, and Utah Grizzlies, Grizzbee at the event!
In addition to the festivities on the day of the hit-a-thon, part of the weekend’s events includes a sleepover in our school’s gym for the softball teams, a question-answer discussion with the students regarding breast cancer and its detection and prevention, and a sharing of what the event means to each student via their shared comments. Two years ago, when I learned through these conversations that a softball player at a local high school had a mother who had recently passed away as a result of cancer, I returned the money that that team had raised during the hit-a-thon to the family of this student to help defray medical costs that had accrued as a result of her illness. It was a touching moment as the high school junior cried in my arms.
Through our efforts, this hit-a-thon concept continues to grow in strength state and nationwide, as it has spread to schools in Colorado, California and Arizona. I hooked up with Kristin Mort, current softball coach at Mesa State in Grand Junction, Colorado, this March and was the guest of honor when Mesa hosted a “Strike Out Cancer” game, all proceeds donated to the Swing for Life fund-raiser. In October, I dropped the puck at the Pink in the Rink at the Grizzlies hockey game as well as threw out the first pitch at the Salt Lake Bees 'Huntsman Breast Cancer Pink' baseball game in May 2008.
It’s been 6 years and I have been blessed with good health and have kept the cancer from coming back. No matter how big Swing for Life becomes, I will always make sure 100% of the money goes to breast cancer research, we have a board of trustees that will never take a salary. I enjoy every minute I put into this and truly believe that my life has been changed for the better because of it. I can’t say enough about the kids or Swing for Life's Co-Founder, Kendra Tomsic, they have become soul mates on a mission and learn first-hand what it means to be involved in service for the greater good of others. I compare it to the movie ‘Pay it Forward’. If everyone did something special to make it better for someone else, we would eliminate a lot of terrible things in this world! These teams compete on the field but have learned more important lessons off the field with Swing for Life; how to make a difference in the community by giving back their time and efforts in finding a cure that could effect a family member, friend, or even themselves.
My message to others that battle this ugly disease; don’t let the beast win! Most of us don’t have to, get in, detect early, and fight like a giant with the best of attitude. I think pink everyday! Nobody plans on getting this handed to them in their life but take these lemons and make “Pink Lemonade”