“I continue to volunteer for Swim Across America as captain of Team Susan Survives! because it is my small way of giving something back to the universe because, for whatever reason, I am one of the lucky ones. In my own small way, I hope to inspire, motivate and encourage others to keep trying and to keep going even when it seems hopeless.”
At the age of 21 Susan Helmrich would hear the words” you have cancer” for the first time when she was diagnosed with vaginal cancer. 24 years later, Susan would be told that the cancer was back and had spread to her lungs. 11 years after that diagnosis, Susan had surgery for neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer. Three times Susan has faced the horrible words of a cancer diagnosis – and three times she has fought back. This year, she will celebrate 13 years cancer-free as a three-time cancer survivor.
Susan has been an avid swimmer her whole life but Swim Across America provided a new meaning to her love of swimming. “I swim because I can, and because so many others cannot. I swim because I am one of the lucky ones who has benefitted from extraordinary research and great medical care, which have saved my life each time I had cancer. I swim because I am so fortunate to have made it through three different cancers, eight major surgeries and way too many hospitalizations to even count, and I have come out the other side.”
Susan partnered with Anthony Ducomb to become the co-event directors for SAA-San Francisco in 2011. The pair worked tirelessly from 2011 to 2020 as event directors to continue to grow the charity swim and raise awareness for the need for funding cancer research in their community. Thanks to their leadership SAA-San Francisco has donated over $5.5 million to support pediatric cancer research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.
Susan has stayed heavily involved with SAA and is the captain of Team Susan Survives!, a top national fundraising team that has raised more than $1 million to support cancer research in San Francisco. “I continue to volunteer for Swim Across America as captain of Team Susan Survives! because it is my small way of giving something back to the universe because, for whatever reason, I am one of the lucky ones. In my own small way, I hope to inspire, motivate and encourage others to keep trying and to keep going even when it seems hopeless.
Swim Across America is celebrating 35 years of impact in 2022. SAA has raised $100 million since its inception in 1987 to support cancer research and clinical trials across the U.S. Please contact Jeni Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org for media inquiries.