NYer Of The Week: Mylissa Tsai Helps Cancer Patients Heal Through Sailing
Updated: Updated 10/13/2012 05:51 PM
By: John Schiumo
This week's New Yorker has turned a stormy journey with cancer into a tranquil sail in New York harbor, for herself and others. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Water, waves and fresh air. They can’t cure cancer. But as Mylissa Tsai discovered, they can help a patient heal.
"I went through a year of treatment, surgery. This spring, I was diagnosed again," she says. "There is something about the sea air that puts all your problems at bay and there is nothing but complete clarity on the horizon."
After her first battle with breast cancer, Mylissa started sailing. She became a founding board member of Sailing Heals, a nonprofit that gives cancer patients and their families a day of sailing in New York Harbor.
"I'm not able to write a million-dollar check to cancer research. I can't cure another patient's nausea," she says. "It's the ability to tell another survivor or patient, 'I know you are going through a tough time but why don't I put you on a sail tomorrow. Can I take you and your family?'"
Offering sails on tall ships in partnership with the South Street Seaport Museum, Mylissa and the crew help patients trade hospital corridors for open seascape, IV tubes for lines.
"I was a little intimidated because we never had gone sailing. But reflecting, yes, it just brought us back through the whole journey because, you know, there were memories that were just so, you know, very sad memories," says Tony Lombardi, a Sailing Heals participant. "This time last year she could barely walk. It was very therapeutic."
"I battled lung cancer," says Sailing Heals Participant Frances Giordano. "Just to be able to do it, I feel I have come a long way and I'm going to continue to go all the way."
So, for adding a calming sail to their journey, Mylissa Tsai is our New Yorker of the Week.
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