Eager to honor the doctor who saved her life, a Nashua breast cancer survivor will be embarking on a lengthy adventure to raise money for cancer research.
Carolyn Choate, 59, will be kayaking more than 300 miles as part of a new, River of Life fundraising initiative that will pay tribute to Dr. Angela Brodie, the woman who previously discovered a class of drugs to treat estrogen-positive breast cancer.
“No one took her seriously in the 1970s because she was a female pharmacologist,” said Choate who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and given three years to live.
Choate met Brodie a few years ago at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where the researcher discovered aromatase inhibitors, the drug that helped save Choate’s life.
As Brodie retires, a $2.5 million capital endowment fund is being established to continue her research lab and advance scientific discovery. Choate’s mission is to raise $500,000 toward the endowment.
“Come hell or high water I am going to do it,” said Choate. “Why can’t I get in a boat and write my own epic?”
The summer-long event will begin on Saturday when Choate will launch her kayak from Nashua’s Millyard Technology Park near the Broad Street Parkway. She will paddle the first leg of her journey with Diane Carson, the co-owner of Nashoba Paddler, who was recently diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
“All areas of research need support, of course, but getting to know Carolyn and what she’s been through physically and emotionally with invasive breast cancer, she’s such an inspiration,” Carson said in a statement. “I’m only happy to help her launch this amazing and historic journey for women everywhere.”
After the initial leg of the trip, Choate will kayak solo throughout the region. Her daughter, Sydney Choate Turnbull, 26, will join her on Aug. 10 when they enter the Delaware River in Port Jervis, N.Y., and paddle about 180 miles through the Upper/Middle Delaware and through hazardous straits such as the ship yards from Trenton, N.J., and through Philadelphia, Penn.
The Philadelphia Coast Guard will be assisting Choate with a portion of her trek, which eventually includes a visit to her birthplace of Havre de Grace, Md. Throughout the journey, Choate will be hosting news conferences and other events sharing the importance of breast cancer awareness and research.
The adventure will conclude with a celebration hosted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine that will pay tribute to Brodie.
“Breast cancer has not been cured yet, but I was the lucky one. This trip is about recognizing the next generation that will help lead the fight to finding a cure,” said Choate.
Choate’s husband, Gordon Jackson, will be assisting his wife and daughter throughout their journey, following every paddle made inside their military-grade, inflatable tandem kayak donated by Sea Eagle Boats.
He has purchased a new camper that will be used as the team’s information center and shelter.
“For her to take this on, it reaffirms her dedication to finding a cure for breast cancer,” Jackson said of his spouse. “I will do all I can to ensure their success, realizing there are some spots on the Delaware with some risky rapids,” he said. “All I can do is be prepared to deal with it.”
To donate to the River of Life fundraising initiative, visit medschool.umaryland.edu/RiverOfLife