Swimmer Turned Advocate Inspires Citizens Statewide

MBCC welcomes Katy Spencer as a 2014 Statewide Chairwoman of Against the Tide. Please take a moment to read Katy’s story about her personal connection to breast cancer and Against the Tide. 


Katy Spencer

12 years. I have been involved in the movement against breast cancer for 12 years. I started my journey as an 18-year-old team captain for an annual breast cancer walk. I dressed in pink and wore ribbons galore. I walked with my friends, my family, and my community in raising breast cancer awareness and further advocating for patient support. At that time, I did not have a direct relationship with breast cancer.

Over the years, however, all too many family members and friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. My life was now personally touched by this devastating disease. The walk that was once just something good to do for others and a chance to give back to my community took on a more important and certainly a more personal meaning. I was now walking, fundraising, and supporting family and friends as they navigated a life-changing diagnosis.

As breast cancer became an illness that I put a face to, I found myself increasingly disillusioned with the commercialization of breast cancer that I once embraced. I heard from survivors that October became a month that was overwhelming in its pinkwashing. The term, pinkwashing, is most often used to describe various forms of cause marketing and is often associated with raising only awareness of certain diseases, mostly through consumerism. I was shocked to discover that perceived fundraising support on the part of the consumer is in fact tenuous to actual disease prevention and research.

In 2009, I started looking for a different type of organization — one that promotes education, activism, and prevention. I wanted to refocus my discussions surrounding breast cancer. I was very fortunate to learn about the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and their efforts. Their mission is centered around the prevention of breast cancer and the environmental causes that are often overlooked, and their advocacy helps refocus the national discussion around breast cancer in order to work toward preventing the disease.

The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition’s annual Against the Tide events merge activism and athleticism. They are an annual opportunity for me to give back to my community, to give back to myself, and to reaffirm my commitment to health and wellness, competing in the one mile swim and 5k run. This event also provides me the opportunity to recommit to eradicating this pervasive disease and to provide continued support for breast cancer prevention.

As such, I am reaching out to each and every one of you to participate in this statewide Against the Tide event at DCR’s Hopkinton State Park on June 21st in Hopkinton (20 miles from Worcester, 30 miles from Boston) and/or at DCR’s Nickerson State Park on August 16th in Brewster (Cape Cod). Against the Tide consists of your choice of one or more: competitive or recreational 1-mile swim, 2-mile kayak, walk, 5K run or 10K run components. This inspirational statewide event helps put an end to painful future diagnoses and helps prevent the tragedy of breast cancer.

Please consider my story, and join my Against the Tide team, The Rack Pack, as we walk, run, swim, and kayak for breast cancer prevention — or make a pledge on my Against the Tide fundraising page.  


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