Indian Hills mom’s breast cancer battle serves as rallying point for swim team

Melissa Anthony, front and center in the pink and white head scarf, with Indian Hills swimmers at the club’s June 23 swimathon.

The camaraderie that propelled Indian Hills Country Club swimmers last week to take their second Country Club Swim Association of Kansas City championship title in a row was forged in part by the swimmers rallying around an Indian Hills parent battling a deadly disease.

Melissa Anthony, one of the club’s 2012 swim chairs, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011, forcing her to have a double mastectomy early this year. Unfortunately, the disease was all too familiar to the Indian Hills community. Kristen Christian, who had been instrumental in organizing the 2011 CCSAKC meet at the club in 2011, had fought the disease as well.

So in late June, the team put on a “swimathon” to raise money for the local Susan B. Komen chapter. More than 25 swimmers got pledges from family and friends to swim laps at the Indian Hills pool one Saturday morning, raising more than $11,000 to fight breast cancer.

Anthony says the event marked something of a turning point for the swimmers, who rallied around the cause, bringing them closer together.

“I think we’re a very caring community, and this was something that everyone really rallied around,” Anthony said. “It gave everyone something to build a sense of team around.”

But, she says, the group is very happy not to have anyone to rally around anymore. Anthony was declared cancer free after six rounds of chemo therapy this spring, though she’s currently undergoing radiation.

“We had an Indian Hills Swim Team-themed head scarf that Kristen handed down to me this year,” Anthony said. “She wore it when she was going through chemo. And I wore it when I was going through chemo. We keep saying that we’re very happy to retire it.”

Indian Hills swimmers hoisted the CCSAKC trophy in Kansas City Country Club’s pool last week.