The woman behind "One Woman, Many Lakes" made a stop in Minneapolis Tuesday to help raise funds and awareness for metastatic breast cancer research.
Mary Gooze of Oregon, Wisconsin, was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2012, and 20 months after her last radiation treatment she got the news: the cancer metastasized to her bones, her website says.
“Something like this just stops you in your tracks, but you have to keep going," she told the Oregon Observer.
And that's what she did, even after the longtime triathlete had been told by her doctor she could no longer run.
Instead, she channeled her love of swimming into something to help those with a similar diagnosis – she began a campaign to swim across lakes around the country to raise money for METAvivor, an organization that directs 100 percent of all donations to metastatic cancer research, her website notes.
“When you get a diagnosis like this, it’s always on your mind,” Gooze told the Oregon Observer. “So this has been a good focus for me and my husband – it’s very difficult for him, too.”
Friends, supporters, boaters and other swimmers were there to cheer her on, FOX 9 reports.
Metastatic breast cancer
Roughly 20-30 percent of people who are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network says, and 100 percent of breast cancer deaths are because of metastasis (when cancer spreads to a vital organ).
Metastatic breast cancer leads to about 40,000 deaths per year, but Gooze's website notes there is very little funding into finding a treatment – only 2 percent of breast cancer research dollars go toward researching metastatic breast cancer.
“The funding and the awareness are both lacking,” Gooze told the Lakeland Times. “People just don’t understand metastatic breast cancer. They think it’s something we didn’t do, that we don’t take care of ourselves and it has nothing to do with that.”
Finding this out prompted her to begin her "One Woman, Many Lakes" campaign.
“It’s as if we were ignored and forgotten, which made me mad, so I decided that I needed to bring awareness to this disease. I knew I loved to swim and that it was healthy for me,” she told the Lakeland Times.