Dean Hall

Age: Adult
Association: Survivor
Region: Portland, Oregon
Cancer: Leukemia & Lymphoma

"Soon you’ll find yourself so happy and healthy you’ll not only believe in miracles, you will find yourself swimming in them."

In a shock of what I had become, it made me wonder if it was time to give up. I’d had “a good run” and if leukemia took me, I rationalized that it wouldn’t be a bad way to go. But then, I remembered I had a beautiful 21-year-old daughter who had just lost her mother to brain cancer only two years previously. She deserved for me to at least try to live!

Finally, I came across an old journal I had kept as a kid. In it, I had written out a bucket list. At the top of this list was my dream to swim the English Channel. At first glance, I laughed at the thought but it stuck and the more I thought about it the better I liked the idea of attempting the impossible—completing a marathon event as an active cancer patient!

My doctors objected, my family protested, my friends pleaded but, I felt I had nothing to lose.

When I started to swim, I felt alive again for the first time in years.
Much to everyone’s surprise, I started gaining weight and my blood counts for the first time in three years were going in the right direction. As my body continued to heal and my head cleared I got to thinking, “Who cares if another middle-aged man puts on a speedo and swims to France?

Better yet, I decided that I would swim the Willamette River that ran through the city I grew up in: Portland, Oregon. I would do it proving to the world you don’t have to give up your dreams simply because you received a diagnosis. Even if the worst possible outcome occurred and I died, I would leave my daughter and the world a legacy of courage and hope. From June 2nd to June 27th in 2014, I swam 9 to 12 miles a day (taking every Sunday off) to become the first person in history to swim the entire 184 miles of the Willamette River.

Upon completing my first blood test after the swim my doctors were shocked to find my leukemia was mysteriously gone without a trace! Since that time, my lymphoma has healed and gone into remission. In July of 2017, I accomplished another “historic first” by becoming the first person to swim the entire length of the River Shannon in Ireland raising money and awareness for the Childhood Cancer Foundation there. I am living proof that you can come back after a chronic illness. When you listen to your heart and dig deep to find the courage that you can overcome anything. Soon you’ll find yourself so happy and healthy you’ll not only believe in miracles you will find yourself swimming in them.