This Time it's Personal

 My team last year, while I was home nursing a broken jaw.

My team last year, while I was home nursing a broken jaw.

I haven't spoken much about it here, but the last year or two have been somewhat insane for me on a personal level. I have had four surgeries in the last year, and honestly, it's only now that I am fully recovered and back into the swing of life that I can appreciate just how tough that was. (I had jaw surgery to correct problems with my bite. The bad news: three years of braces, several surgically-broken jaws, and lots of complications. The good news: I can now bite through anything I want, and smile beautifully when I do.)

All this craziness led to me putting a pause on my rowing career ("career"), but I've recently been able to throw myself back into it, and I've never been happier. I'm celebrating my return to rowing and good health by participating in my first-ever race, Row for the Cure, and I wanted to share with you why I'm doing it. 

 The sunrises are one of the best parts of rowing. This one dressed in pink for the occasion.

The sunrises are one of the best parts of rowing. This one dressed in pink for the occasion.

In short, this year my team is rowing for one of our very own who is recovering from a cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy. All funds raised go directly to help women in our community who need financial help during a tough time.

You can read the screed below (and donate, if you're so inclined, and I sure would be grateful) here:

"I've spent the last 15 or so months off from regular rowing. I've had four surgeries in that time, and while physical recovery was long, mental recovery was even longer. At the beginning of October I realized I was in a good place, and I returned to rowing with a vengeance. I committed to some races, threw myself into everything, and as a result have spent the last several weeks sore, exhausted, and pretty happy.

My first ever race is at the end of this month on our home waters: Row for the Cure on Mission Bay in San Diego.

To be quite frank, I've always been skeptical of fundraising efforts for certain breast cancer organizations. I am wary of pinkwashing, and I understand the responsibility in making sure funds raised actually go to the people who need it most. That's why when my rowing club announced our participation in the San Diego Row for the Cure, I didn't really consider participating.

Then a couple of things happened. My friend and teammate Charlotte was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I spoke with the Susan G. Komen organizer and asked some questions about exactly where all the money is going.

Overhead, salaries, and operating costs at Susan G. Komen are taken care of by corporate sponsorships. All funds raised in the race I am doing go directly to the San Diego community and to women and their families who are effected by breast cancer. Mammograms and screenings are funded for people who cannot otherwise afford them: most of the women are single moms without salaried jobs or job security. They need help with health care, meals, and recovery.
Like mine, Charlotte and her family are military. I know all too well how fortunate it is to have military health care when you are in the midst of a health crisis. When Charlotte was diagnosed, she had access to some of the best breast surgeons and doctors in the country. She had her healthcare costs covered. She had an uninterrupted income and job security. While her breast cancer was unlucky, her circumstances made her better off than many (if not most).

This year's race is dedicated to our friend and teammate Charlotte, but it's for the other women in our community who need help. My rowing club, ZLAC, has raised more than $80,000 over the years, and it has all gone directly to 3200 women in our community.
I am in a position to give back, and I know how lucky that is: that is why I'm doing this.

If you'd consider donating, I'd be forever grateful. Any amount is fabulous: A dollar is a dollar! And if you're in San Diego or the surrounding area, you are invited to join us at ZLAC after the race for a fabulous brunch patio party (all paid for by my club & our team!) (I'm bringing the muffins).
This is a good bunch of women doing good for a bunch of women. Will you help us?

(Also, there are prizes for the top fundraisers, and to be honest I really want a massage. Imma need it after that race.)

xo
Caitlin"

 Now row would be complete without some high fives.

Now row would be complete without some high fives.