Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

No one had ever completed this heroic challenge—the 110- mile swim from Havana to the shores of Key West without protection from sharks. But Diana Nyad, 64, realized her dream today when she reached land after her swim of almost 53 hours.  She fought through sleep deprivation, energy expenditure, prolonged exposure to cold water, and unimaginable muscle and joint fatigue—along with other unknown physical dangers—in order to complete this journey.  No matter.  She walked out of the water on Monday, September 2, and pumped her fists in exultation.  She beat the odds and overcame every obstacle on this, her fifth attempt to complete this crossing.

Nyad’s story is a 21st century epic about a woman mothers will tell their daughters about from now on.  It will always begin in the same way. “This is what can happen if you never give up.” Then the story will continue. “Diana had a gift of physical prowess and she knew that she had this gift.  She learned over many years how to refine her many talents to complete the 110-mile swim which would be her crowning achievement.  She  always believed in herself and in her gift.  She ignored those who told her that she was too old, that the elements were stronger than she was. And she knew that this was not a journey she could make unless she had a devoted team to support and protect her.”

The story will continue in the voices of loving mothers across time and many lands: “When you find your gift, my daughter, you too can overcome dangers and fears of the unknown. Find your talent, use it fully, and walk onto the shores of your competition with your arms reaching to the sky.”

Diana Nyad’s story will always deliver a message of hope to the mothers of these daughters—and to all women who are no longer young as well. One of the three messages she had for us when she walked out of the water was this: “You are never too old to chase your dreams.”

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  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson September 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Perfect timing! I just made the decision to reboot my dream to make money as a freelance writer. I am 75 & so long as I can still write, I can breathe, because words are my oxygen. Thank you for your inspirational article on this important day for me.

  • suzanne September 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I always knew that Diana Nyad was going to succeed. I was overjoyed yesterday when she did it. I, actually, cried. Older women can be tough and very cool. Next time I am inclined to limit myself or give up, I will think, “What would Diana do?”
    Thank you, Diana and Dr. Pat! Suzanne

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. September 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Dear Toni,

    I followed Diana’s journey over the weekend with more anxiety than she had, clearly. Thank you for sharing your belief that she will be the go-to example for girls and women who can learn that failure can be just a step on the road to success. If you want it badly enough, don’t give up.

    Dr. Pat

  • Toni Myers September 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Dear Dr. Pat: You are amazing to offer this piece on the actual day of Diana Nyad’s singular accomplishment. That she kept trying after some devastating experiences is so awesome, I have no words. My granddaughter is 3 and loves to have mermaid books read to her. Soon there will be children’s books about Diana’s feats and her strength of purpose. And I will be sharing them with Hazel. What a role model!