My memories of the 2019 Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis (formerly Crossing for a Cure) can be summarized by a few beautiful moments:
Connecting With My CF Warriors in Bimini
Working in the CF Care Center, I see over 90 people with CF every 3 months. I typically know what is going on in their lives and am available to be a support person as they cope and live life with this disease. After deciding to sign up for The Crossing, word spread fast at the hospital I work at. Some people told me how awesome they thought it was, some told me that they thought I was crazy. Almost everyone told me a story about their fear of sharks. I knew going into this event that two of the people with CF who would also be paddling were patients at my care center.
On the eve of our paddle across the Gulfstream I was able to have a precious moment with each of them. They thanked me for going on this journey with them, they shared in my excitement and, most importantly, I saw the people behind the disease. I saw people being people, experiencing something new, just as I was experiencing something new. My admiration for them continued to grow and as I met the other several people with CF that would paddle across the Gulfstream it reminded me of why I choose every day to be BOLD IN THE FACE OF FEAR and stare cystic fibrosis in the face and say NOT TODAY.
The Rag Tag Group of “Weekley Rehab”
Signing up for “The Crossing,” was a semi well thought out plan. I didn’t have access to a boat, a board, equipment and over the several months of training, I clearly didn’t have balance. Shortly after the rec paddler assignments were emailed out, reality set in. I did not know the three other people that I was paired with. So, like any other 20-something year old, I facebook stalked them. Well, I have to say, that did not help! We planned a get together and met with our captain. His name is Patrick. More affectionately known as “Pat” or “Cap” by our crew. He was an expert on the Bahamas and I immediately knew that I would be in good hands. (Don’t worry mom!) We started talking and texting over the next few weeks and I had some long phone conversations with my fellow paddlers about our “WHY.” Was it a personal physical challenge? Did it have a greater meaning? Were we crazy?
There are not many people that you could pair together randomly that would have the same outcome that we did. We supported each other. We shared our struggles and we grew spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. To Matt, Sara, Mike, Pat, Leah, Krystle, Elle and John…. I thank you for the ride of a lifetime and the continued friendship we share today. I thank whoever was responsible for randomly assigning us together because my life is better and richer because I know these people.
That Hour on That Dark Shore Before Jumping on My Paddleboard
I’ve faced struggle in my life. I’ve stared into the darkness not knowing what will come on the other side. Most of those times, the choice has not been mine. This time was different. I sat next to my board in the sand on the dark beach in Bimini and I cried. I held onto a napkin that listed the names of the Warriors that I was crossing in honor of, the ones that I’ve held the hands of during their hardest struggles, the end of their lives and the ones that I know will have the toughest battles ahead.
I wrote down affirmations from my mentor (Shout out to Lex!). I repeated the words that meant the most to me and mostly. I cried. I cried because I was proud of myself. I cried because I knew that I was CHOOSING to do something so difficult, so impossible and I didn’t care. I was going to do it anyway. That hour on the beach before I began my Crossing something shifted in me. I wasn’t going to be about the ending, or the result. I was showing up and ready to get my butt kicked for something bigger than myself.
Puking My Way Across the Gulfstream
I don’t puke. I will do anything not to puke. That is the best thing about The Crossing, though. Everything that you think you will never do, you will never try, you could never do—it was going to happen whether you liked it or not. I puked my way across the Gulfstream. Puking for me is a traumatic memory. I had cancer when I was a young child and I couldn’t control the amount of puke after each dosage of chemotherapy. It reminds me of that time of my life. I don’t puke. I avoid it and my mind tells me that I don’t have to puke if I don’t want to.
Well, folks, the Gulfstream had other plans for me. It was going to teach me a lesson, or 50. It was going to teach me to be vulnerable, to be patient and most of all how to puke off the side of the boat without getting it on the boat. Somehow, some way, it healed me.
The Far End of the Lake Worth Pier
After my previous memory shared, I am sure you can imagine that I did not paddle the entire way across the Gulfstream. I was determined however, to muster enough energy to paddle into the shore. Pat, Elle, John, Leah and Krystle helped drop my board into the water, load my, now dear friend Matt, onto my board and send us on our way to a shore filled with people wielding bells. I never thought the far end of the Lake Worth Pier was far… but let me tell you… IT WAS FAR.
P.S. Thanks to Matt Cardone for trusting me to bring him safety to shore and to talk to me and keep my calm the whole way.
–Megan Casabe, MSW, LCSW, CF Clinical Social Worker