A Delta police officer has completed an incredible marathon swim in support of a local woman’s fight against cancer.
At exactly 7 p.m. Thursday night (Jan. 10), DPD Const. Kelly Seib got out of the pool at Sungod Recreation Centre to the cheers of supporters after swimming for 12 straight hours in an effort to raise $10,000 for Tashina Janus, a 23-year-old North Delta woman who needs an urgent, potentially life-saving treatment to remove a tumour from her brain.
In the fall of 2016, just before Thanksgiving, Tashina had a seizure in her sleep. Her boyfriend woke her up and wanted to take to her hospital right away, but she brushed it off, thinking it was nothing.
He raised the incident with her mother, Monica, the next day during Thanksgiving dinner when Tashina complained about body aches and had trouble walking up stairs. Having worked as a nurse-clinician at Vancouver General Hospital for 45 years, Monica knew something was up.
A CT scan revealed Tashina had astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer whose growth starts off slowly at first but then quickly picks up steam. The cancer can’t be treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Doctors were able to remove 95 per cent of Tashina’s tumour after seven surgeries, but the remnants can and do grow back if left untreated.
Her doctor recommended immunotherapy, which in Canada is already used to trick the immune system into fighting liver and bladder cancers, but it has not been approved here to treat cancers of the brain.
One place where she can get the treatment — albeit at a steep price — is at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, but her mother estimates the entire treatment could cost upwards of $400,000 in the United States.
Thanks to Seib’s efforts, Tashina will at least be able to get into a room with the doctors to see what her options are.
Seib admitted it was not easy swimming for half a day, but “quitting was not an option.” Using her policing experience, she approached the swim as if on duty.
“In the beginning, I broke it into halves, then you break that down, and keep breaking it down by the kilometre,” Seib said. “I was shy of [the goal], but it wasn’t about laps, it was about completion.”
She said it was a challenge staying hydrated and eating while swimming, “but I did it, and I’m so proud of our community.”
A GoFundMe page started by Tashina’s sister Soraya has raised over $53,000 so far, more than halfway to the family’s $100,000 goal.
Soraya, a civilian colleague of Seib’s, called the DPD officer an honorary sister, estimating they raised some $8,000 on Thursday night.
“Kelly Seib, I have no words for. She is an outstanding human being, an outstanding friend and has gone great lengths to help someone in need,” she said.
“I am extremely honoured and humbled by the support from Delta fire, Vancouver fire, Search and Rescue and just strangers from the community who have outpoured themselves, shed some tears with us and just cheered us on.”
Mayor Harvie, @CQualtro, Fire Chief Scholfield and @CUPELocal454 President John Gibson supporting Cst. Kelly Seib's 12-hour marathon swim at Sungod pool. She is swimming to support a @deltapolice family member who is bravely fighting a brain tumour. #DPDstrong #DeltaBC pic.twitter.com/M9YXMYP5at
— Delta Mayor's Office (@MayorofDelta) January 10, 2019
Tashina said the cancer is stable fro right now, but that it could change at any moment, similar to the episode which led to her eventual diagnosis. She made one trip to California in November to consult with specialists and is now waiting for the genetic sequencing to be done, adding the sooner she can get treatment, the better her chances of beating the cancer.
“This came in in an instant, so we don’t want to gamble with my life. We need to get on this right away,” she said. “It looks like [the tumor] has spread a little bit to the left side, so I need to get treatment soon.”
Tashina said the day was long, but it was “filled with happiness, joy, hope, tears, people sharing their stories. It’s just been unreal; I couldn’t have hope for a anything like this.”
Cst Seib started her 12 hour swim today in @CityofDeltaBC Sungod Rec Center in support of a @deltapolice family member bravely fighting a brain tumour. Media was on scene as well as a strong contingent of DPD officers and employees. #CommunityPartners #dpdStrong pic.twitter.com/2AE0e5I1mE
— Neil Dubord (@ChiefNeilDubord) January 10, 2019