A beacon of hope: How a surfboard is boosting morale for local cancer patients

Tidelands Health cancer patient Harry Muiter is joined by infusion nurses Tara Wiggins, at left in photo, and Tricia Balazs.
Tidelands Health cancer patient Harry Muiter is joined by infusion nurses Tara Wiggins, at left in photo, and Tricia Balazs. Tidelands Health

For cancer patients in Murrells Inlet, it's more than just a surfboard.

It's a message of hope.

Harry Muiter was diagnosed with stage four terminal colon cancer last January. After receiving treatments at Tidelands Cancer Center for nearly a year, Muiter decided it was time to thank the nurses and doctors who have become more like family.

Muiter chose a surfboard that is filled with brightly colored ribbons representing different cancers, the Tidelands Health logo and the word "hope." On top of that, Muiter wrote a letter to staff, which he calls a 'Letter of Love.'

"We already know what my outlook is — I'm going to die, and I'm fine with that," Muiter said. "But theirs is 100 percent more intriguing than mine. But there's nothing better than the nurses there. In the bottom of my letter, I wrote in the bottom of my letter 'P.S., the one good thing about cancer is all of you. And I thank you for that.' Because they are just unbelievable there."

With the help of a friend from Costa Rica, Muiter slowly saw his gift become a reality.

"He shaped the board, he did all the stuff on it and put all the ribbons for all the different types of cancer," Muiter said. "He came here and did that for me for about a month. I donated it to them, and then on the back of it everybody signed it, the doctors, the nurses. And then donated it to the hospital for everything they do. Not just for me, for breast cancer and everything else."

Muiter also provided the brackets to hang the board on.

After reaching out the a friend who lives in Hawaii, he was given hand carved brackets made from wood that represent "good luck."

"What he has done is hard to put into words," Clinical Director of Outpatient Chemotherapy Services at Tidelands Margaret Breslin said in a press release. "It just shows how much they mean to him, and they know it. And Harry means so much to us."

But for Muiter, the surfboard goes further than the hospital. As owner of Inlet Engine Repair, Muiter said it's all about the Murrells Inlet community and the surfing community.

"You couldn't ask for a better community," he said. "There's not one person here that wouldn't help somebody else.

"When kids get into [surfing], that ends up being their hobby. Everyday they get off school they can't wait to go surfing. They run out there and see what the waves are. It does so much for the community, it just brings everyone together. That's what it does for me too when I go out there and see all the kids. It just makes me smile."

Now, Muiter plans on continuing his chemo treatments and running his business.

"So far it's been a year and I'm doing okay," he said. "And they said I had between five and seven years to live. I think I have more. Ain't but one person gonna tell me when it's time to go and he's way way upstairs."