Local Breast Cancer Survivor Transforms Swim Meet Into Fundraiser

Bolt Aquatics warming up for the breast cancer fundraiser meet in Sebastian, Florida.
Bolt Aquatics warming up for the breast cancer fundraiser meet in Sebastian, Florida.

SEBASTIAN, Florida – The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the five-year survival rate after diagnosis for people with stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent.

Michelle Moss faced statistics like this and worse when she received the diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer in May 2017. She inherently knew the odds and reality of her situation as a result of her career as a nurse and surgery center practice administrator.

“I flat out refused to let it win,” said Moss. “I found humor anywhere I could. When my hair started to fall out, I dyed it pink. When only four pink hairs were left on the front of my head, I laughed harder and channeled my inner muppet.”

Michelle Moss and her son, Ian Sutter.
Michelle Moss and her son, Ian Sutter.

Moss is a mother to her nine-year-old son, Ian, and when diagnosed, a newlywed. Ian attends school in Sebastian and swims with the local swim team, Bolt Aquatics.

With the support and advocacy of her oncologist, Moss battled cancer with chemotherapy first. In October 2017, her chemotherapy was stopped, and she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. After complications arose from the chemo, she received radiation from November 2017 to March 2018.

With chemotherapy and radiation complete, she went to an appointment with her oncologist on June 20th. At her appointment, she learned the amazing news that her tests showed no signs of cancer. The findings were validated again at a later visit.

Unlike many women struggling with breast cancer, Moss was fortunate to have the insurance and means to afford treatment. Moss discovered a local nonprofit, Friends in Pink, that is dedicated to providing financial assistance to individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are uninsured or underinsured.

“Did you know that the average breast cancer medical expenses exceed $350,000.00 on the Treasure Coast?’ asked Mark Barnes, Friends in Pink Event and Office Coordinator. “Donation will help cover the medical expenses of those suffering with breast cancer who have inadequate or no health insurance. Friends in Pink, now in its 12th year, is the Treasure Coast’s largest charitable provider of this type of assistance. Working together with supporters, like you, is vital to our continued assistance of local breast cancer patients.”

Yaidelin Lara (9) and Ian Sutter (10).
Yaidelin Lara (9) and Ian Sutter (10).
Ian Sutter
Ian Sutter

In celebration of her health and experience, Moss partnered with Bolt Aquatics to transform its home swim meet, on October 27th at the North County Aquatic Center, into an opportunity to help Friends in Pink.

“We turned the pool pink!” said Coach Bill Bolton. “Michelle is an amazing woman, a fantastic mother, and an inspiration. I am so excited that we could help raise funds for such a worthy cause while recognizing Michelle.”

Since the team could not literally turn the pool water pink, they sold pink swim caps and other merchandise to raise money for Friends in Pink. The team raised $ 700. There were 75 swimmers and 150 attendees.

“Seeing all the pink capped heads bobbing in the pool and swimming in the races was amazing and a great way to raise awareness about breast cancer and uninsured patients,” said Moss.

The Bolt Aquatics website will remain up to accept donations, or you can donate directly at the Friends in Pink website.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges grew up in Jupiter, Florida where he began his career in radio and TV broadcasting for over 12 years. He would make a career change to computer programming. Andy spent seven years working for tech companies in Atlanta before moving to Indian River County in 2002. He returned to the news sector in 2005 as a writer. Andy joined Sebastian Daily in 2016 as our editor in chief.