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How Sailing Brought Me Closer to a Breast Cancer Survivor—My Birth Mom

By BCRF | August 9, 2014

A BCRF Fundraiser Combines Her Love for Sailing With Raising Funds for Research

When Ashley Bell's birth mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Ashley knew she wanted to get involved with raising money for research. A sailing enthusiast, she combined her love for sailing and her drive to support research.

The Seattle sailing community rallied behind her and The Pink Boat Regatta was born. Read on for Ashley's inspirational story.

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

I came to Seattle by way of California, and before that, Winnipeg, where I was born and grew up. I was adopted at birth, and met my biological mother when I was 19 years old — well after her first diagnosis, treatment and remission from breast cancer at age 38. It really didn't register at the time how close I came to never having known my mother, who's now the closest thing I have to a sister and best friend.

Four years ago in Seattle, I stepped foot on a sailboat for the first time and never looked back. Sailing, and particularly racing, taught me a lot about who I am and what kind of life I want. It taught me how to be fearless when it mattered most, in a sport where safety coming first means the ability to react when you might be exhausted, cold, wet or just plain terrified by the conditions. I fell in love with it, and started getting involved any way that I could.

Just two years later, I found myself competing in a world-class regatta at one of the best sailing venues in the world, the San Francisco Bay. It was there I met a local sailor preparing to sail around the world in support of breast cancer research. Coincidentally, I had also just received the news that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. This time, it was very real. She was my mother now, and I was present to experience it with her. Needless to say, finding out about an opportunity to be part of something which combined my passion for sailing and a cause so close to my own heart and family struck a chord. My crew and I went back down to SF to participate in the first pink boat regatta the following month and had so much fun, we knew it had to come to Seattle.

Continue reading at the Huffington Post.