Inspiring memories from The Crazie Daizies

Last week I spoke with a very inspiring group of women – The Crazie Daizies. The Daizies first came together in 2004. It was during this time that work colleagues and running partners - Pauline Tam, Kathleen Kwan and Heather MacDonald - decided that they wanted to participate in their first Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Toronto. The 3 friends had already completed several 5km and10km runs and 3 half marathons together. Now it was time for a new challenge! They wanted to give something back to the community.


Today, the Crazie Daizies are made up of the following members:


Pauline Tam

Kathleen Kwan

Heather MacDonald

Sally MacDonald

Heather Seabrooke

Margaret Reiss

Joyce Lin

Karen Frybort


When I spoke to the Daizies they offered to share their most inspiring memories from their Weekend to End Breast Cancer walks with us:


Pauline Tam: "During the walk in 2004, a special woman really stood out from the crowd. On the first day, at lunch, as we were climbing the huge hill that leads out of Sunnybrooke park, we came across a woman walking, with the help of a walker, who had already made it part way up the hill. We slowed to talk with her daughters. They told us how their mom, who was 80, was walking for the second year in a row. The walk provides vans to allow people to walk part of the way, and if they have health issues they can take the van to the next rest stop. They told us how last year she walked the entire way on her own and was determined to do the same this year. Her grit and determination was really inspiring in itself. We saw her again throughout the two days. We saw her coming into camp at night and leaving early in the morning to get out there and get a good start on the day. At the end of the second day, as the walkers gathered after crossing the finish line, there is always cheering to help others celebrate completing their journey. We could hear the noise from outside before we could see her. There was a ripple effect though the crowd as the other 5,000 walkers cheered this very special woman as she crossed the 60km finish line on her own!"


Kathleen Kwan: "As we were crossing an intersection, there was a woman standing by herself on the other side of the street. She stood there alone and clapped as the walkers walked by. Occasionally, she would just say "Thank you for walking."


Margaret Reiss: "About 20km in on the first day, I was feeling very sore.  My knees and hips were hurting, and then I started to listen to 2 survivors who were talking to each other, behind me.  They were talking about what their treatment had been like.  The sacrifices they had to make, and that which their families had to make, in order for them to cope.  They also shared how even though now they are cancer free it still took about a year of therapy to really understand that they were ok, and to get on with their lives.  Listening to those 2 women made me forget my pain for awhile.  After they were finished, I was still hurting and I realized that shortly my pain would end. I didn't haven anything nearly as hard to overcome, as what they did.  Yet they were still walking and talking and spreading their story, and the least I could do, is walk with them."


Heather Seabrooke: "Last year I spent a couple of months in hospital, not with anything life threatening or incurable, but I was there for a while. There was a woman with cancer in a room down the hall. I would walk by her room and smile. I think once she attempted a smile, but without much effort. Then came the day I walked by her room and smiled and I was shocked by the look she gave me. She could not have said it louder if she used words. It broke my heart as her eyes said "Go away. Stop smiling at me. You're going to walk out of here one day and I'm not!" Shortly after, I did leave and she didn't. I'm not sure at what point after that encounter that I decided to walk, but walk I would!


I walked so that one day others will walk out of the hospital!

I walked so that one day cancer will lose the power to fill one more pair of eyes with the complete loss of hope. I walked to change that.

I walked for hope!"


Heather MacDonald: "I signed up for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer because it seemed like a good mixture of something that would challenge me personally and would help to raise a lot of money to research a cure for Breast Cancer. After signing up for the event and establishing our team, we set out to start raising our minimum $2,000 each of donations. This seemed like a really daunting task at first and is the reason why many people don't participate in the event. We started off by writing letters and emails to our family, friends and co-workers to get the word out there that we were participating and looking for support. The response that we got back was overwhelming. The generosity of others truly inspired me throughout our 3 years of walking. People would come and share their stories of a loved one or friend that was fighting cancer, or whom they had lost and make a donation to help us reach our goals, and ultimately the goal to end breast cancer forever. I have not met one person who can say that their lives or the lives of their friends and family haven't been touched by breast cancer or some other form of cancer.


When we arrived at the walk on the first day, not knowing what to expect, we were completely blown away. At the opening ceremonies they have a group of survivors walk down a center aisle through the 5,000 + walkers with their hands joined to form a circle, where the empty space in the middle represents all the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters and friends that we have lost to this horrible disease. Interspersed throughout the crowd are other survivors who have battled the disease and come out strong enough to walk 60kms and make a difference so that others don't have to go through what they have gone through. You stand there and think, the least I can do is raise money and walk 60kms!


We were all inspired each year as we approached the front entrance to Princess Margaret Hospital [in Toronto, Ontario]. On the front steps were the doctors, nurses and other staff from the hospital cheering on the walkers and thanking us for raising money and for walking. In the first year, we walked for part of the route behind Paul Alofs, President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and Dr. Tak Mak who is one of the leading researchers.


It meant a lot to have them out there participating with us."


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