Beth Carey (Burr) and Carol Motyka-Miller have been mimicking each other's moves for close to 30 years. As synchronized swimming duet partners, the duo has won over 30 international and national gold medals at the masters level.
As remarkable as those athletic accomplishments are, Carey and Motyka-Miller are serving as inspiration for their friends and family as they tackle another challenge – individually and together.
Earlier this year, Motyka-Miller, a retired physical therapist, began to exhibit some atypical movements during swimming practice. Not long after, Motyka-Miller was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Following brain surgery, Motyka-Miller was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments when she received word that her longtime friend and swimming partner, Carey, was diagnosed with a tumor in her pancreas.
The prognosis for pancreatic cancer is usually dire; however, Carey's cancer was caught early and confined strictly to the pancreas. Utilizing a robotic technique, Carey's tumor was removed with only a few small incisions serving as remnants of the surgery. The new surgical technique benefited Carey in two ways: First, the scarring was minimal, and second, she was free to re-enter the pool and resume her synchronized swimming training.
Carey, a 1955 Norwich High School graduate, said getting back into the pool was foremost in her mind as it served as therapy, and also allowed her – and Motyka-Miller – to shift their focus away from their medical conditions. The duo was preparing for the Pan-American Masters Championship held in Sarasota, Fla. this past June. Dual cancer diagnoses was not going to slow the longtime partners down.