Taking the Plunge to Fight Cancer

On September 17, Desanne Martin will mark her tenth plunge into the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay for Swim Across America, a benefit swim for cancer research and treatment at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

“This is my way of letting cancer know it’s not going to win.”

Desanne's 7-year-old son Grant was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer in 2007. After a tough battle with the disease, Grant was declared cancer-free in 2008, the year Desanne’s first team of six participated in the 1.75-mile swim.

Team Grant has since blossomed into as many as 50 swimmers and raised an impressive $680,000. One member is Howard Rosenfeld, M.D., the cardiologist on our Oakland campus who first discovered Grant’s tumor and swims with the family every year.


"This is my revenge on cancer," shares Desanne as she prepares for her tenth swim. “I’ve wanted to set the tone for my family and community that when horrible things happen, beautiful things can come from that. And I want to show them that when life knocks you down, you can fight back. This is my way of letting cancer know it’s not going to win."