When doctors declared Allison DeFrancesco in remission from cancer at the age of 21, they told her to “You’re done (with treatment.) Go be normal.”
“I thought, ‘What does that mean?’” said DeFrancesco, who was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a collegiate swimmer at New York University. She spent a couple years in treatment, finally receiving a bone marrow transplant. The process robbed her of her swimming season, graduation and left her tired and discouraged.
As she struggled to get back on her feet post-cancer, she was hit with another blow — her coach and mentor, Lauren Beam, died of colon cancer in 2011. She wanted to do something in memory of Beam, something that would keep her from defining herself as a “cancer survivor” and nothing else.
“Why not swim the English Channel?” she thought.