Thursday, April 19, 2018
Health

Swim Across America hits Clearwater Beach for cancer awareness

CLEARWATER BEACH — Jim Sirignano considers himself a pretty good athlete. A former college football player, he's the strong, confident type, always ready for any kind of physical challenge.

But when it comes to mental toughness, he said he's a lightweight compared to his brother Paul, who died 2 ½ years ago after a long battle with cancer.

"He had such courage and determination," Jim, 50, said. "He never gave up."

Sirignano often wondered what went through his brother's mind as he endured treatment after treatment.

"Even with a good support system, when you have cancer, you're the one who has to deal with it day after day. He must have felt pretty alone."

Sirignano wished he could have shared his brother's burden. But when a friend told him about an open-water swim to raise money for cancer research, he knew he'd found something he could do.

"I never really swam before and thought it would be an incredible challenge for me personally," said Sirignano, who lives in Clearwater. "As it turned out, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

The concept was simple. Each swimmer pledges to raise a specified amount for a designated charity. Then all of them pile into a boat, get dropped off in the middle of the ocean and swim for shore.

"It was cold, dark and pretty lonely out there," he said of that first swim off Long Island a decade ago. "But then it hit me — this is what it must feel like when you are a cancer patient, scared and lonely, wondering if you're going to make it."

Sirignano drew strength from those around him. He emerged from the water feeling glad to have been a part of something big.

"That was my first Swim Across America event," he said. "I have done one every year since."

The national, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment now holds events in more than a dozen cities, including Clearwater.

Since the first swim off Nantucket Island in 1987, Swim Across America has raised more than $45 million for charity. Last year's inaugural Clearwater event raised more than $100,000 for the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, and this year organizers hope to double that amount.

"It's a pretty simple formula," said Sirignano, who helped bring the swim to the Tampa Bay area. "Participants who are 18 years or older are asked to raise a minimum of $500, and those younger than 18 are asked to pledge $250."

Swimmers have three distances to choose from: half-mile, 1-mile and the new "Ironman" distance of 2.4 miles. Participants can swim as individuals or as part of a team in honor of friends and loved ones who have fought, or who are fighting, cancer.

The race starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, so you'd better get going, either to swim or to cheer on the swimmers.

"If you haven't signed up, you can still come out on race day," said Joseph Gallina, a spokesman for the swim. "Walkups are welcome."

     
Comments
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18
Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Two years ago, Dr. Daniel Cole’s 85-year-old father had heart bypass surgery. He hasn’t been quite the same since."He forgets things and will ask you the same thing several times," said Cole, a professor of clinical anesthesiology at UCLA and a past ...
Published: 04/13/18
Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Like staying up late? A new study suggests night owls burning the midnight oil could be more at risk for developing certain health complications, including fatal ones.The study, conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the U...
Published: 04/12/18