On September 6, 2014, my cancerversary passed by. It has now been an entire year since my diagnosis. Given the enormity of what has transpired in this last year, perhaps it is a bit odd that I find myself sitting here reflecting on how incredibly fortunate I am. But then again, maybe it’s an entirely appropriate thing to be doing….
The moment I announced my diagnosis, my CrossFit Altitude family was planning a fundraiser. I hadn’t even thought about needing money, when the JY Pi fundraiser was already happening. People I didn’t even know showed up for a workout, donated generously, and by the end of the day I was standing there with nearly $5000 stuffed into an envelope. Hoping I would never need it, I put the money into a fund and, together with my cousin, started a foundation called Love the Snatch to continue raising funds for cervical cancer research. Since then, many generous box owners have given me space to sell Love the Snatch t-shirts, many supportive crossfitters have bought them, and some amazing Masters athletes have donated during the first Masters Only Fun Competition at CrossFit Altitude, raising almost $10,000 more over the next few months for our foundation.
As it turns out, I have chemo resistant metastases, and am in need of money after all to afford experimental treatments that are not covered by OHIP. So, on Sept 27th, 2014, exactly one year (less one day) after JY Pi, I found myself the slightly uncomfortable center of attention once more as the Ontario CrossFit community (and my awesome family, "common law" family, and work colleagues) came together again for the 2nd Masters Only Fun Competition and Fundraiser for Love the Snatch. People donated their time and money even more generously than before, and after competition registration, BBQs, raffles, and silent auctions, in only a few hours I was left with SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in a Rubbermaid bin. The alarming thought is that this would only cover ONE chemo treatment if not for my private insurance, which covers 80%. As it is, I am fortunate that the funds raised will cover the chemo co-pay, some additional complimentary therapy, and even provide a small buffer should I be required to travel in future for trials.
If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m a rather verbose person. As coach Jen addressed the event volunteers, competitors and spectators to tell them about me and the reason we had come together, I could think of absolutely nothing to say that would even come close to describing what it means to someone fighting for their lives, to anyone for that matter, to feel so wholly and completely loved by everyone around you.
Before the JY Pi fundraiser, the O’Quinns had some of those rubber “cause” bracelets made up in teal and white for cervical cancer, with the clever phrase that has since become the slogan for Love the Snatch: “kicking cancer, one snatch at a time”. I’ve worn that bracelet every day for the last year as a reminder.
When I see that bracelet, I think about all of you who have made me soup, given me a ride, offered a ride, or even just suggested your favourite Netflix show. I remember all of the encouraging stories you’ve told about your loved ones who have survived, and your conviction that I will do the same. I think about how CrossFit Games competitor Michele Letendre won a local competition and then gave me half of her winnings. In the last year I have lost most of my strength, but when I see my little rubber bracelet I recall what strength feels like; it channels my own feeling of strength, collects all of your well wishes en route, and culminates in what I can only describe as confidence. I wear my bracelet to remind myself, not that I am a Cancer Patient, but that some day, I won’t be one anymore.
So there you have it. I owe you all for not only about $12,000, but also for the confidence that I will survive. A certainty, I believe, which is necessary for actually accomplishing that goal.
I’m a very independent person. I don’t like needing help, and I don’t accept it easily. How can I possibly ever adequately express my gratitude, much less repay you all, when I feel as though I quite literally owe you all my life? I can’t. Instead, I shall endeavour to give you your money’s worth by not dying. And perhaps make you a bowl of soup next time you find yourself in need J