ZIRCONIA, N.C. (WLOS) — The calm waters of Lake Summit are just what the doctor ordered.
Angie Evans gladly leads the way on a kayak.
“The first time I went kayaking with Angie, a snake fell in my kayak,” Kay Shurtleff recalled.
Thankfully, that was an isolated incident.
Ten years ago, Evans started the nonprofit Waters of Hope.
“I realized that I had the kayaks, I had the ability, so what I could give people is quality of life. So, I started taking breast cancer patients kayaking,” said Evans, the News 13 Person of the Week.
She and husband David invite folks like Shurtleff to the lake.
“So, how many more radiation treatments do you have?” Evans asked.
“Twenty-nine more,” Shurtleff said.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January but is now optimistic after completing chemo.
Quality time on the water is one way she seizes the day.
“There’s things to enjoy out in life, and it’s all open to you. You just need to seek it out. Sometimes go beyond your comfort zone and just enjoy the big picture of life,” Shurtleff said.
“Judy, you had surgery two weeks ago?” Evans asked another paddler, Judy Solitario, who’s cancer battle began in 2005.
“And life is not over. You keep going,” Solitario said in a determined voice.
These outings are a reminder she’s not alone.
“With her background and her own personal experience with her sister,” Solitario said, speaking of Evans. “You can connect with people who have the same problems, and it was just really comforting.”
Her devotion to cancer patients and survivors is a tribute to her sister Natalie, remembered for her zeal for life. Sadly, Natalie died of breast cancer at just 38.
“We’d come out on the lake a lot of times when she was having bad days, and it just took her mind off of everything,” Evans said.
Now, it’s Evans who needs an escape. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy five weeks ago.
“I just want to keep kayaking and taking people kayaking and living my life to the fullest,” she said Tuesday on the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Out on the lake, her sister’s never too far from her mind.
A decade after losing Natalie, the pastime they shared together means more than ever.
“It healed me, and it continues to heal me because, I mean, I still miss her,” Evans said.