LAKE TOMAHAWK - Each year about 40,000 people die from metastatic breast cancer, but only 2% of money raised for breast cancer research goes towards this type of cancer.
Story By Katie Thoresen
People with this terminal disease often feel forgotten.
One woman is trying to change that.
Mary Gooze of Oregon, Wisconsin started the One Woman Many Lakes campaign.
"I'm swimming for metastatic breast cancer," explained Gooze. "I was diagnosed with stage IV last June and the research and the monies available for research are lacking for stage IV. So I decided to draw attention to the disease and that's why I'm swimming."
Mary had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. The cancer went into remission after radiation treatments.
Then in 2014, when Mary was training for a triathlon, she had a sharp pain in her hip. The cancer had spread to her bones. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in June 2014.
There are 155,000 people living with metastatic breast cancer and 40,000 people die from it each year.
"That number is a huge number, because I'm part of it now so it's a scary number," said Gooze. "More funds from the cancer organizations, NIH, national institute of health, needs to see us and realize we are not the forgotten group. We always say don't ignore stage four."
Mary is swimming in lakes all across Wisconsin and the country to try to raise awareness and money for metastatic breast cancer through her One Woman Many Lakes campaign.
"Oh, I am just so proud of her," said good friend and neighbor Barbara Zuhlke. "She has just taken this really difficult thing in her life, to be facing metastatic disease, a disease that ends people's lives, and she's taken around to say 'Hey! We need to make people aware of this disease.'"
With Sunday's donation from the First Weber Foundation, Mary has raised more than $15,000 for metastatic breast cancer research.
Mary has swum 12 lakes and more than 20 miles.
"The lake experience is wonderful but even better are the people supporting me," said Gooze. "And I've always had a group. I come out of the water and they're cheering and that's a great support."
Friends and neighbors came out to support Mary on her swim across Two Sisters Lake on Sunday. Some even joined her in the water.
Mary is fortunate to be healthy enough to still be able to swim. Many with this disease are not. She plans to swim as many lakes as she can to raise as much awareness as she can.
You can follow Mary on her journey and support her cause on her website.
One Woman Many Lakes