KIRKWOOD, Mo. — There are only about 2,000 people who have ever successfully swam across the English Channel between England and France.
Kirkwood's Jonathan Whiting, 60, hopes to join that impressive list.
It's a 21-mile swim that can stretch to 30 miles depending on the tide in the 60-degree water. He's doing it without a wetsuit, without help and without stopping.
"It's difficult, because of not only the cold waters, there's seasickness and in the middle there's jellyfish," Whiting said.
But he's not doing it for himself. Whiting is always thinking about his wife, Lori.
"I think we were soulmates. We were in such sync, such sync," Whiting said.
At 49, Lori discovered a lump in her stomach. What they hoped was nothing turned out to be something they'd never heard of.
"Walked in for the results of the tests, and the doctor came in and said, 'We have cholangiocarcinoma. There's a 15 percent chance that you can live five years. There's no treatment'," Whiting said.
They tried some experimental treatments, but it wasn't enough. Lori died at 53.
During her fight, Whiting said his wife's spirit and positive outlook gave him inspiration.
"She was always cheerful, you know, with the doctors and nurses and friends. And you never really. If you didn't know she was diagnosed with cancer, you would know she had it because of how she acted. She was just made you smile," Whiting said.
So now, he's about to attempt one of the greatest physical challenges on earth, armed with his wife's memory.
"If you're diagnosed with cancer, it's scary and you don't have a choice. Yeah, swimming the channel is scary, but I do have a choice, so I want to use the strength that she showed me to give myself strength to swim across," Whiting said.
Whiting said he hopes to raise money and awareness about cholangiocarcinoma with his swim, and help save people like his wife.
"The more I swim, the more I want to get the word out. I can get the word out, the more I want to swim," Whiting said.
You can learn more about Whiting's swim and mission to honor his wife at 21milesofhope.org.