Supporting Self, Community, Legislative and Research Advocacy within the Cancer Community and Beyond
Heather “Swifty” Swift has been Kicking mAss since 1998. At 28 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a recently single mom with two small babies on her hip. After completing treatment with the thought that cancer was in her rear view mirror she worked, locally, as a volunteer for Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance doing community outreach to be certain that no one faced cancer alone.
In 2005, she had a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, which only amped up her commitment to creating positive change through community action and to becoming a strong and effective advocate for the young adult cancer community.
Although most people recognize Swifty as a strong spirited cancer survivor, many do not know that she has also overcome the catastrophic event of breaking her neck during a mountain-biking accident in 2009. Although her doctors told her that she would never again lead an active life, she has defied all odds and continues to race dragon boats & outrigger as well as kayak, row, and paddleboard despite the numerous physical challenges that face her on a daily basis.
Her life experiences allow Heather to speak first-hand on the physical and emotional challenges that face those who have encountered cancer as well as other severe illnesses and injury. Her compassionate and empathetic spirit, combined with personal honesty and humor, always manage to engage her audience on both intellectual and emotional levels. Her talks are upbeat and educational, and people leave feeling better informed, more vibrant, and alive.
Now, at age 42, Swifty, her partner, Brian, and her two teenage children work together locally, nationally and internationally to advocate for change. Swifty regularly meets with legislators to work towards tangible change in health care, legislation that addresses the needs of cancer patients, care-partners, and families. She works directly with clinicians, medical/nursing students, youth & college students, cancer support organizations and others to educate them about the special needs of young adults living with a cancer diagnosis. Swifty is passionate about providing support by connecting people living with cancer to resources, to other cancer survivors, and to mobilizing and training individuals and groups to find their inner advocate.
Swifty currently works with a number of amazing, hand-selected organizations, which provide her with opportunities to educate, to advocate, and to change the conversation about cancer and to work to bring an end to the disease. A few include: LiveSTRONG, mAss Kickers, National Breast Cancer Coalition, Imerman Angels, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes,The Second Basemen, and Stupid Cancer.
Swifty is an oncology nursing student in upstate New York, loves time with her family, paddling sports, and peanut butter. She is a Virgo, but not the really anal-retentive type. Her strange fascination with superheroes makes her popular in geek circles, but it can be endearing. Swifty will be a delegate to the World Cancer Congress in August of 2012 in Montreal, Quebec and really does believe we can achieve and end to cancer and in world peace.
Motto: Never Give Up!