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Neighborhood swimmers pool resources to fight cancer

Photo: David McGregor 
Swimmers participate in the 50 meter backstroke during a neighborhood swim meet at Wild Timbers pink-dyed pool on Thursday in Sugar Hill.

Photo: David McGregor Swimmers participate in the 50 meter backstroke during a neighborhood swim meet at Wild Timbers pink-dyed pool on Thursday in Sugar Hill.

SUGAR HILL -- As they readied themselves for competition alongside a pool filled with pink water Thursday evening, the Wild Timber neighborhood swim team joined together in a synchronized cry.

All donning pink swim caps and various encouragements scribbled across their bodies, upward of 100 supporters gathered poolside, the youngsters shouted four simple words together: "We love you Stacy!"

"Stacy" is Stacy DeRogatis, the mother of one of their teammates. On the night of the team's final meet last July, she discovered a lump in her breast. Two surgeries, nine rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments later, Thursday's meet with visiting Meadow Trace was all about her.

"This is just ... so hard how to put into words how this feels," DeRogatis said, pausing in an attempt to keep her composure. "It's so amazing."

The Sugar Hill subdivision's swim squad, Team Extreme, picks one community family to raise funds for each year. This year, it was the DeRogatis family, and it was big.

Dozens and dozens of parents and neighbors swarmed the pool pavilion hours prior to Thursday's meet, dressed in anything pink they could find. Shirts reading "Save the Breast Stroke" were particularly popular. Swimmers wrote things like "cancer can eat my bubbles" on their backs.

DeRogatis' team for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, known as "Pinkilicious," sold pink cotton candy, pink lemonade and pink cupcakes to raise money for the cause.

Even the opponents got in on the act, their coach sporting a bright pink headband.

"It means everything, just to know everyone cares about my family and everyone's trying to help us," DeRogatis' daughter, 13-year-old swimmer Haley, said. "My mom's cancer didn't just affect us, it affected them, too."

And yes, the water was actually dyed pink, an idea team representative Shahina Donaldson expects to set a precedent.

"We bought generic red pool dye, which is used at parties and stuff, and just diluted it down," coach Patrick Lyons said with a grin. "Everybody's pumped up, everybody's ready to go."

Stacy DeRogatis' prognosis for the future is a good one. Doctors believe they've "gotten everything," and she'll continue to receive IV treatments every three weeks through July.

"This says that Wild Timber loves to support their family," Donaldson said. "Everyone's on the bandwagon, because everybody knows somebody with breast cancer ... To see Stacy and put a face to cancer and know that this is helping her, this is big."