Why I love my Campbelltown Pod - my extended Can Too family

by Emma Brown 15 Oct 2020

Craig Dwyer found the support he received from Can Too to like being welcomed into a family.

“I will always be grateful to my extended Can Too family. ”Craig Dwyer and his wife Natalie started a learn to ocean swim program in 2013. Just five weeks later Natalie was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer.“

I can still remember where I was when I got the shocking news. I rushed from work to meet her with the GP and within 24 hours we were in front of the gastrointestinal surgeon,” said Craig.

“She unfortunately had to withdraw from the program after five weeks, but before that she was swimming multiple laps in the pool and in the ocean out past the breaks. ”This was a major achievement as Natalie’s goal was to overcome her fear of ocean swimming and, before Can Too, she had trouble swimming 50 metres.“

Mentor, Jodi Vallak and Team Captain, Ian Bond were incredible, Natalie loved both of them for helping her achieve these goals.”

The couple both reached their fundraising goals and Natalie was on the beach to cheer Craig on for completing his first ocean swim – the iconic 2014 ‘Big Swim’ from Palm Beach to Whale Beach.

“She was waiting on the beach only six weeks after major surgery. Despite the brave face and beautiful smile Natalie was unwell. She was back in hospital days later to get her pain under control and start aggressive chemo.

“Natalie was given six to 12 months after her diagnosis. Our reasons for taking part in Can Too then changed considerably.

“I never realised how significant Can Too would be, how important it was to have an outlet, away from our life which was all about cancer and searching for treatments. Can Too helped me to not just stay physically fit but mentally strong. We lived by a mantra we adopted with our Can Too program – ‘just keep swimming’”.

Natalie ended up being gifted nearly five years due to the brilliance of people working to find a cure and making the lives of cancer patients better, such as Prof David Thomas at the Garvan Institute, who has been funded by Can Too. Natalie took part in Prof Thomas’ genetic sequencing program and immunotherapy drug trial.

“It resonates with me how Can Too’s fundraising goes to causes close to her heart. They’re still looking for answers to Natalie’s type of cancer – Leiomyosarcoma. Without research there isn’t much hope.”Sadly, Natalie lost her long battle with cancer on 27 August 2018.

Natalie Dwyer is pictured in the centre

“It was Natalie’s wish for me to continue with Can Too. She knew how important it was for me to raise awareness and support of cancer research, and for my own health and wellbeing.

”Their sons Brad and Mitch have also taken part in Can Too. Brad swam alongside his dad and – with Mitch watching – Craig completed the 2019 Big Swim, six months to the day after his wife passed, on what would have been their 28th wedding anniversary.

“It was a tough day but good to have my boys there supporting me.”

Brad Dwyer said that his ‘Mighty South Pod’ Can Too group offered him a level of support he wouldn’t have found elsewhere.

When his mother was diagnosed with cancer Mitch said that he felt so helpless and Can Too was a way for him to help and show support to mum and dad.

“Can Too seemed like an effortless journey with my dad by my side. He has always been a pillar of strength and support all through my upbringing and especially through the last five years,” said Mitch.

Craig said that he’s not sure what he would have done particularly this year without the swim program and ‘my amazing Can Too (mighty) South Pod family’.

“I love every one of them for how they’ve helped me, probably without even realising, a smile or hello before training, an encouraging cheer, a chat as we walked down the beach or a laugh as we caught our breath between pool sets. And the amazing messages of support from my pod and many others in the Can Too family.

Craig founded the first Campbelltown Pod in November 2019 watch the part 1 video about why he loves his Campbelltown pod.

Find out how the Campbelltown Can Too pod performed on their big days at their goal ocean swim events in the grand finale video 

 

Can Too's Learn to Ocean Swim Summer program is now open, you can register here: https://www.cantoo.org.au/swim

 

Register your interest below in a Can Too run program in the Macarthur area.