In 2012, Mary Gooze had a mammogram that detected a mass in its early stages. She went through surgery, chemo, and radiation. After nine months, she was cancer-free. Unfortunately, 20% to 30% of early stage breast cancer still spreads into metastatic cancer — no matter how early it’s caught.
Such was the case with Mary.
When Mary started experiencing intense hip pain while training for a marathon, she went to her doctor, and she was told that her cancer had come back and metastasized to her bones.
Mary had been forbidden from running, but she was allowed to keep swimming. So after her diagnosis (and a mere two weeks after a radiation session), she swam two and a half miles across Lake Washington, while her husband Rob skimmed along beside her in his kayak. It took a lot of effort, but she felt invigorated afterwards — and it made something click: she could encourage other people battling metastatic breast cancer, and also help raise awareness and funds by swimming. Thus, One Woman, Many Lakes was born.
A few months later, while the project was just beginning, Mary swam over two miles in 58-degree water. After she got out of the water, a bewildered observer asked her what she was doing. When she explained that was she raising money and awareness for metastatic breast cancer, he gave her money right then and there.
Since her mission began, Mary has swam 35 miles in more than 22 different bodies of water. At the time of this posting, she has raised almost $120,000 of her $1 million goal.
155,000 women and men in the United States have stage 4 breast cancer, and it kills 40,000 of them a year. Typically, the survival rate hovers around three years — but for women under 40 with the disease, their life expectancy is even lower.
“We are starting to raise our voices and saying, ‘Listen to us. We don’t want to be the forgotten group,'” Mary says. “And that’s what we feel like — we’re forgotten.”
In this video, watch Mary in action as she swims across a lake with her friends and husband by her side. On this particular day, she’s swimming for her friend Heather, a 35-year-old mother who hopes to spend as much time with her 4-year-old daughter as she can…
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.