I usually share a bio of the person being profiled. However, I want to do something different. I want to explain why Amanda needed to be included in this series.
I have known Amanda since high school. I was a friend of her brother. I learned that Amanda, her brother, and their family were thoughtful and generous people. They once opened their house to me and basically spoiled me to the point where I think of that visit as one of my favorite all time experiences. That's the type of person Amanda was raised to be.
She married another alum of our high school, Todd McGovern, who was the type of person so many of us aspire to be: genuine, talented, and gracious. Unfortunately, Todd was soon diagnosed with cancer. But, they decided that this was not the end, but the beginning. When I heard that Todd had cancer and had started an organization, Seas It with Amanda, I marveled. I wanted to help, but I was so moved by their willingness to help others during their own personal struggles. Todd and Amanda were true role models for me. I would occasionally reach out to Todd, to check in on his health, and his organization. He always responded honestly and positively.
Todd bravely battled cancer with Amanda's support for eight and a half years. Their enduring love and determination continue to inspire all who know their story. I am certainly included.
I am proud to have such an important story included in Advice for My Daughter. Here is my interview with the Director of Seas It, Amanda Costanzo McGovern
What is the Seas It story? How and why was it founded? Who or what do you serve exactly?
So, the Seas It story . . . Todd and I founded Seas It back in 2004, shortly after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer, and the reason we founded it was because we were trying to make sense of very confusing and dark times. One of Todd's first questions after he received his original diagnosis was, "O.k. Amanda. What's the positive that's going to come out of this negative?" And, we were brainstorming ways we could help other young adults in our shoes. We thought we would be able to give back to those who helped us so much getting Todd through chemotherapy and his treatments and helping me as a caregiver to give me a couple of hours each week to take care of myself. After doing our research we saw that young adults was an area in the cancer community that was being left untouched. So it was founded to keep others active and positive during their treatments and to take care of other loved ones. We originally started out by serving young adults (18-50 years old). Now, it is all adults 18 and older. (Including pediatric and geriatric cancer) If you are taking care of someone going through treatments or you are going through treatments, then you qualify for Seas It services.
What skills and characteristics are needed to be successful as the Director of Seas It? What else have you done in your career that might have prepared you for this role?
I really attribute my success with Seas It to my seven years working at Cartier in New York City. I worked in the corporate office as the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO for three years. Then, from there I took on a variety of different roles working in different departments. I ended up becoming the Network Development Manager for North America overseeing special projects. It sounds totally separate from the work I do with Seas It. I have applied the skills I learned at Cartier (the business acumen and the ability to network) to how I operate and direct Seas It. Our client and hospital outreach, the way we communicate with clients on our website - I really owe a lot of my professional success with Seas It to my experience with Cartier. I think the characteristics that are needed to be successful particularly with Seas It are to really believe in the mission. You have to stay positive and stay active and really live it (the mission). That's the core of it, but obviously you're wearing so many different hats organizationally. You're doing events, pr, contacting patients and caregivers, and doing this as quickly as possible, especially since some of the people you're dealing with might not have time on their side
So you can understand, someone reaches out to Seas It to apply for a grant for a yoga class, gym membership, or a new bike and they may have terminal cancer and only have three months to live. So it's my goal to get that grant fulfilled as quickly as possible.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? What are some of the challenges you face?
What I enjoy most is when we have these large scale events and we've gathered a lot of people in one place all for the same mission: spreading awareness. But, it's not just about Seas It. It's also about embracing an attitude; no matter how bad things are, things are still o.k. This is what Seas It represents to me: finding the positive. It's the gift that Todd has left me. I'm able to see firsthand how much the mental side of things really can help you get through some dark times. So, yes, what I enjoy most is when we have everyone together coming together for the same case and supporting the mission.
It's really hard . . . I've been living with cancer for ten years and now that Todd's not here . . . It's hard to talk about Seas It and bring up Todd. So, a lot of people look up to him for inspiration. It's always very tricky for me when I'm talking to someone and they're referencing Todd. If people don't know Todd, they may not know he's passed away. I don't want take the wind out of their sails. Todd had someone that inspired him who passed away during a critical point for Todd in his battle. I didn't have the heart to tell Todd for a few months. So, it's the separation of my personal background and what I do on a daily basis. That's the true challenge for me.
You are also a parent of twins. What has been most rewarding about being a parent?
Oh my gosh, there are so many things. To me, what is most rewarding is to share the things I love with them. Every morning when they wake up, my room faces east, so we have a great view of the sunrise. Every morning, we watch the sunrise and read books together. Especially given my situation and not having Todd to share that with, there is something so magical about sharing it with the boys and really imparting that love of nature and our environment and where we live with them. It's really beautiful. I don't take one second for granted.
When I see their little minds figuring out something for the first time, that's extremely rewarding. And, of course, the little things, too. The hugs and the kisses, sharing those calm and peaceful times before the world enters. It's really nice.
Finally, what is one motto that has served you well in your life and career? Why?
This is one of my father's mottos and became one of mine in 2004, shortly after Todd was diagnosed. It's a Clint Eastwood quote. Improvise, adapt, overcome.
Basically, during Todd's eight and a half year battle we were always thrown curveballs. If they told us to go this way, we eventually had to go that way. We had to think on our feet, change it up and not let it get to you, and keep moving, keep going forward, and not forget the goal. I've used that time and time again, not just with Todd, but also during my career at Cartier, when I was trying to navigate the corporate ladder. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Figure it out!
Thank you to Amanda for her time. Head over to the Seas It website and donate to their cause! Follow Seas It on social media below.