In June 2008, I was ready to conquer the world. I had just graduated from the University of Toronto receiving my Masters degree in Music [my dream school & dream career], my boyfriend [now husband] was moving across the country to be with me, I was young[er], active, determined, and no one could stop me. Then I heard the words that would stop anyone dead in their tracks: “You have cancer.”
In August 2008 I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Here’s the crazy part – I had no idea. When the doctors first interrogated me about symptoms, I didn’t know what to tell them other than I didn’t have any. None. Zero. Zip. All I knew was that I had found a mysterious lump under my collarbone I thought was tension build-up from the physical demands of playing a musical instrument as a profession. That lump led me on a wild goose chase to diagnosis – but here’s what’s absolutely incredible: after a simple needle biopsy, I received the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s within an hour.
Now, to go from feeling like a normal healthy human being to suddenly being told that, not only do you have cancer but STAGE 3 cancer is a lot to take in at once. Within the week I was referred to Princess Margaret Hospital where my doctors prescribed 12 rounds of chemotherapy to take place over the following 6-months. I was inundated with information and drugs and forms and schedules. There were so many questions and so many things to do and to remember that I’m not surprised those details are lost on me now. The only message that rang through loud and clear then and still is clear in my mind today is that, in 6-months I was going to be ok. There was no hesitation from any of my health care practitioners in that statement. You see, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has been so extensively researched that my doctors were able to confidently tell me that they knew exactly what medications to give me to help me beat this cancer completely. In fact, if you can believe it, my main hematologist eloquently referred to Hodgkin’s as the “common cold” of cancers!
You’re probably wondering, how did TNT come into the picture? One thing I learned after diagnosis is that everyone copes with devastating news in his or her own unique way. My doctors may have been confident in my prognosis but cancer is a scary diagnosis to cope with. Most of my loved ones live in various cities across the country so I’d call to find them cleaning their whole house from top to bottom or booking flights to come visit. I received homemade meals, a regularly vacuumed apartment, and a bi-monthly coffee date with a rotating roster of my nearest and dearest the days I had chemo. For my sister, she sought out a way to give back by fundraising for Light the Night and founded Team KA-POW! in October 2008. Since then, we’ve both led teams to walk and fundraise for Light the Night benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.
January 2014 marked 5-years in remission, which is a HUGE milestone. To celebrate, my sister and I decided to up the ante and run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco with Team in Training. Together, we raised over $8000 to help conquer cancer in our lifetime and successfully completed our first half-marathon! Running with TNT was an incredible experience – from the training and fundraising coaching to the inspiration dinner and spirit teams cheering us on, I was overwhelmed with support and encouragement every step of the way. 6-months later, I’m already signed up for my next event – the inaugural Nike Women’s 15K in Toronto!
Participating in TNT is my way of giving back to the organization that saved my life. Without the advances made, my diagnosis may not have been detected as quickly or through a simple needle biopsy. Without the money raised, my doctors may not have been able to offer such a favourable prognosis or nicknamed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the “common cold” of cancers. I want to further the medical advancements and continue the heroic strides made to conquer cancer in our lifetime. I hope you’ll join me in the fight by joining Team in Training today - with your help, someday IS today!