Cancer survivor joins daughter on "epic" kayak trip


UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TOWNSHIP, NORTHAMPTON COUNTY (WOLF) -- A woman from Nashua, N.H., and her daughter just left from the Shawnee Inn in Monroe County on Sunday.

They continued what she calls their "epic" kayak trip to raise money for breast cancer research. We caught up with them at their next stop on the river.

They've been dealing with different currents, deciding which way to go around islands, and passing speeding jet skis.

The organizer says the University of Maryland College of Medicine wanted her to do something big to help her doctor friend's lab, and she had just the idea: kayaking from her house to Baltimore.

They started this leg of the journey in Port Jervis, N.Y., about four days ago.

While others at the Driftstone Campground cook at a campfire, a New Hampshire woman and her daughter are just happy to rest, after four days of kayaking down the Delaware River.

Carolyn Choate says this journey started in 2003 when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She thought about her two daughters.

"My daughter here, Sydney, was only 12 years old at the time, and at the time they gave me three years to live," says Choate, 59.

"They sat us down and they were like, listen, your mom has cancer and we're gonna try and fight as hard as we can," says daughter Sydney Turnbull, 27. "They also hid the severity from us to give us the normal household, so mom was still working. family dinners every night, coming home from school they would be there."

Choate says after chemotherapy, there were still traces of cancer, so her doctor prescribed an estrogen blocker called an aromatase inhibitor.

It worked and she researched online to find out who developed the drug.

"One night, very late at night, the name Angela Brodie came across the screen," says Choate.

She wrote a story and sent it into Brody at the University of Maryland.

"This wonder drug that saved my life and enabled me to continue in motherhood, and see my daughters graduate from college," says Choate. "My letter said, in my e-mail, if this is you, Dr. Brody, I just want to thank you for saving my life and I represent millions of people around the world who you've saved, and we became close friends."

Choate says in this kayak journey, she wants to exhibit the hard work of Brody, who was doing important scientific research back in the 1970s.

Choate's daughter came home from three years working at a Saudi Arabaian university, on a break before going to grad school in London, to join her mom on the trip.

"We had a bunch of rapids today, which we kind of like," says Turnbull. "They're a little energy boost for us. Less work to do, but in total, I think we'll be doing about 200 miles on this river."

Choate's husband is helping from the shore. The couple used to run a low-power TV station, and are documenting the trip with photos and on Facebook.

They have an iPad with maps, a satellite phone that always works, donated sun-protective clothing and a special military-grade kayak, Choate said.

"It doesn't capsize, which is good, because I don't have much experience," says Choate.

There's a lot of work, such as rowing 16 miles on Sunday, or about four hours.

"I'm gonna have some guns when this is over," says Choate, showing her arm.

Dr. Brodie died in June from Parkinson's disease at 82 and will not get to see the end of the journey, but did know about it.

Choate did not have any recurrence, but also had a second mastectomy as a protective measure five years ago and is doing well.

They have already raised $27,000 to help endow Brody's lab, and they hope to raise $500,000, Choate said. There is already $2 million allotted to continue the lab after Brody's death.

They will continue on toward Philadelphia. They will not be able to go through a canal in Delaware, but will start again at Elk Neck State Park in Maryland to go on the Chesapeake Bay, and will have some breaks.

The trip wraps up on Sunday, Aug. 27 in Baltimore and they will also be honored by the Baltimore Orioles the next day.

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