After a cancer diagnosis nine years ago, Julie Moody found God was with her in the deep waters of despair. She now takes to the swimming pool with her two children to celebrate what God has done.


Source: Photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash

Isaiah 43 begins: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.’

I’m not sure how many of my fellow Swimathon swimmers were thinking of these words during the Swimathon weekend at the end of April although thousands of us have been swimming in deep water!

When I first spotted the Swimathon challenge on social media I was instantly hooked. Here was an event I could undertake alongside my two children. They are both keen swimmers, and I potter about in the pool trying to rehab a broken collarbone.

Swimathon crosses the generations and, with MySwimathon, we could set our own distance and time.

In the past I’ve raised funds by running the London Marathon, but that’s an adult-only event. Swimathon crosses the generations and, with MySwimathon - at a venue of your own choosing - we could set our own distance and time.

Initially, we aimed to swim 500 lengths of our local pool and to raise £500. As I write, we’re at almost £2,000 (before Gift Aid) and 1,000 lengths!

Back to that verse from Isaiah - why are these words even on my mind as I swim? Well, I decided I wanted to live for Jesus when I was eight years old. That’s a long time ago! Over the decades, these words of reassurance have helped and encouraged me. God has called me by name. He is with me. I belong to him.

Nine years ago, that faith was shaken. The river of difficulty which threatened to drown me was a cancer diagnosis.

Nine years ago, that faith was shaken. The river of difficulty which threatened to drown me was a cancer diagnosis. As I breastfed my five-month-old baby girl, I found a lump. That discovery catapulted me into a horrific journey of surgery, chemotherapy and real despair. When the cancer returned just two years later, I was devastated.

I was also angry (Why me again? My two young children need their mum!). I found I couldn’t pray. I wanted to chuck it all in; to walk as far away from God and faith as I could.

As I trudged through the rain, in the depths of despair, I could not escape words I knew from John’s Gospel. When Jesus asked his disciples if they wanted to quit, Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68). I could walk away from God, but where would I go? I could abandon faith, but it would be so much darker and desperate without Jesus.

God called me, very gently, by name that day and reminded me that, as I walked through the deep waters of despair and the raging river of cancer, he would never leave me.

I hope through sharing my story, I can inspire others to take part in Swimathon in future to help support important causes. I’m taking part to raise funds for Cancer Research UK because we need to find new and better ways to beat this devastating disease. I’m glad Swimathon also raises funds for Marie Curie because those who are facing death deserve the very best care and a dignified death.

Entries for Swimathon 2025 are open now.