Surfing for Hope: Passion


1. Read the article, “Surfing for Hope:  Passion,” below.

2.  Answer the questions in red that come after the story.

Surfing for Hope: Passion

By: Bog Voglin

Passion is the word I think about in relationship to surviving difficult situations. 10 years ago I discovered I had cancer. I discovered a small lump on my neck and I thought it was a mild infection and saw my nurse practitioner who after checking out this lump gave me the fateful expression, “Let me get another set of hands to check this out. My doctor came in and sent me off to a local ENT doctor who confirmed my lump was a fast growing cancer that had attached to my lymph node. “Yikes, I have cancer,” were my immediate thoughts. On the first week of January 2004 I began going through treatment to fight this fast growing thing on my neck.

I received 35 straight days of radiation and 3 series of chemotherapy and after 6 months had a rad neck dissection and more chemo. All this left me weak and almost took me out with challenges of dehydration and not being able to consume enough food to keep me going which resulted in having to have a peg tube or food tube in my stomach. Not a lot of fun, but without these intense treatments I would have died. At that time there were not a lot of resources in our area for people like me to find and get direction and information on cancer. I was literally brought to my knees with my battle with cancer. I was lucky that I had a wonderful angel of a wife who helped me get through this difficult time. I’m also so lucky to have had a passion that helped me in so many ways to power through and survive this ordeal. For me surfing is my passion and I’ve been such a lucky human to have been able to surf for more than 50 years, It’s like I’ve gotten away with something so special for most of my life.

I started surfing in 1960 in Santa Monica.

We lived in Pacific Palisades at that time and I could skateboard to the beach and surf State Beach, sometimes I would get to surf with Dora and Jonny Fain, oh how they disliked us gremmies and we were just inspired by their amazing surfing skills and tried to mimic them. I’ve had the pleasure to surf so many wonderful spots. Malibu, Topanga and Point Dume were some of my favorites in my early days. I’ve been fortunate to have surfed many great spots in Hawaii, Mexico and even got to surf in Christmas Island on two different trips and surfing the Central Coast for almost 24 years has been awesome. I’ve lived the surfer life for all these years and I’m probably more stoked now about this sport now, than when I was younger. You can say I took to heart the song surfing is the only life, the only life for me..

When I was fighting cancer I was very lucky to have many people in our surfing community help and support me through my struggle. I surfed through the first part of my treatments and keep paddling out until I was too weak to go.

When I regained some strength I got back in the water and surfing made me stronger and the stoked help me get through this battle. I was so blessed to have a loving family, great surf and non- surf friends and the love of God to help me pull through this gnarly section of my life.

After I recovered from this ordeal I became involved with a group of survivors who help and talk to people going through cancer. When the Hearst Cancer Resource Center opened about 7 years ago, I also volunteered. I was at the Arroyo Grande High School’s Puma swim meet representing the Resource Center with Bev Kirkhart, the director, when I came up with an idea. Let’s combine the medical world with the surfing community to help people with cancer. I mentioned this to Bev and she thought it was a great idea. I saw my oncologist, Tom Spillane and his wife Dr. Karen Allen at the beach, of course, and presented the idea of a surf contest and benefit to them. They loved the idea and so began Surfing for Hope. We were very fortunate to have a great group, both surfers and medical people, that appreciated this idea and jumped in to make it happen.

We held our first event in Nov. 2012 and it

was a huge success. Our event is like a 5-part play. We start with a memorial paddle out at Avila beach; then, have a dinner and auction in Avila. The next day is a surf contest at the Pismo pier and later in the day we have a Health Fair on the pier. We end with an awards ceremony at Steamer’s Restaurant in the wonderful city of Pismo. We raised more than $60,000 our first event and almost $50,000 with this year’s event. All the money goes to helping and educating people with cancer through the Hearst Cancer Resource Center in San Luis Obispo which helps people in our area.

Passion is my word and the one I embrace when I talk to other people who are challenged with cancer. For me, my passion is, and always will be surfing. I tell people to find what they like or love and use it to get through the difficult ride of fighting cancer. Surfing for Hope is my thanks to surfing and being able to participate in this wondrous sport that is not only healthy, but healing.

1.  What inspired you about reading Bob Voglin’s story?

2.  Bob found that surfing helped keep his spirits high when he was battling cancer, what is your favorite positive athletic thing to do?  Explain how being active can make you happy and keep your spirits high.

3.  After having other people (Doctors) help him through cancer, what did bob do when he got better?

4.  Have you ever been helped by others through a difficult situation?  How so?

5.  Have you ever thought about creating a way to help others, like how Bob is helping other cancer patients?  If so, what have you done?  If not, how could you live your life in a way to help others?


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