Walking into the future
in honour of loved ones
When Yee Fun Wong describes her experience at the 2014 Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers as having been “really raw”, she’s referring to much more than the physical exertion of covering the lengthy route through the streets of Montreal. Rather, she’s talking about the emotions she felt in the absence of her close friend, Katrina Teske, who was supposed to have walked alongside her.
Ms. Teske, a research assistant in the Lady Davis Institute at the JGH, died of ovarian cancer shortly before last summer’s event, despite her hope that she might be well enough to participate. “I cried at the starting line,” Ms. Wong recalls, “because I had wanted so much to walk with her, and there we were without her. What could we do but take the baton and carry on?”
The resolve to keep walking was strengthened this year, as friends and relatives decided to do whatever they could to fight the disease that had taken Ms. Teske from them. In her honour, Ms. Wong says, they named their team Katrina’s Awesome Possums, a tribute to Ms. Teske’s fondly remembered habit of giving rhyming nicknames to those who were close to her.
Ms. Wong says that Ms. Teske began experiencing abdominal pains in 2013 while visiting her family near Kingston. What she first thought was a gastrointestinal bug was eventually diagnosed as cancer, for which she underwent treatment that seemed to produce good results. But after the treatment ended, doctors discovered an additional form of cancer that had previously escaped detection.
As someone who’s active throughout the year and has already experienced the Weekend, Ms. Wong isn’t planning to do anything special to train for the event this August. The big challenge, she says, is in varying her pace to keep in step with teammates who may sometimes need to walk more slowly than she does. “It’s all about keeping together,” she adds, “because that’s what Katrina would have wanted.”
Participants will walk a total of 60 kilometres over the two days through the streets of Montreal, rain or shine, starting at Villa Maria school in NDG. The school will also host the Saturday evening entertainment and dinner, and the camp will be set up there for two-day walkers. The walk resumes Sunday morning. All meals, drinks, tents and washroom facilities are provided throughout the entire weekend.
Anyone who is unable to walk the route but wants to get involved can be a crew member who serves meals, assists walkers or performs other necessary jobs. Crew members also pay the registration fee, and are encouraged, but not required, to raise $500. Opportunities are also available for volunteers.
For more information about the Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers—including registration, joining or forming a team, fund‑raising and training—please visit www.endcancer.ca or phone 514-393-WALK (9255).