Walker Walking

Walker Stories

We all have a reason for supporting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and committing to Walk throughout Toronto alongside thousands of others. On this page, we highlight personal journeys with cancer, life-saving experiences at The Princess Margaret, commitment to OneWalk’s fitness and fundraising challenges, dedication to making long-lasting impact and empowering on-event experiences.

Do you want to share your story? Email our OneWalk Coaches at torontocoaches@onewalk.ca to opt into potential media and marketing opportunities leading up to and during the event. Let’s encourage the world to Walk On!

Celia Chandler will be walking for the third time in the 2019 OneWalk to Conquer Cancer.

She is inspired by her late husband, Jack, and his cancer journey, which taught her to cherish time with family and motivated her advances in cancer research and treatment at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

In 2015, Jack and Celia planned their wedding in New Zealand. However, life had other plans for them and they spent that time at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre after learning that Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer.

It was thanks to his care at The Princess Margaret, that the couple was able to seize the moment and spontaneously decided to elope in the middle of Jack’s treatment to get married. It was never how they had planned it, but they wanted to live their lives to the fullest. In lieu of wedding gifts, they asked for donations to support the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Celia and Jack were very grateful to Jack’s team of doctors and nurses. Celia says that if it were not for the unparalleled care and devotion from their medical team, Jack could not have lived to do everything he had wished to do before parting. He got married and got to see his daughter marry a few weeks before passing in a medically assisted death, surrounded by friends and loved ones. Jack took his life in his own hands and lived his life on his own terms.

He will forever inspire Celia and her team who will walk in 2019 in honour of Jack and with the hope that others can benefit from the research and treatment supported by the funds raised at The Princess Margaret.

In 2012, a few days shy of her parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, Nancy Carrol was shocked with the news that her mom and herself, had been diagnosed with cancer. Nancy shares with us why walking in this event holds such a special place in her heart.

Before my mom and I were diagnosed in 2012, we had lost my sister Andrea’s much-loved husband Scott to cancer at age 28. For me, it was the second time being diagnosed after having battled breast cancer in 2002 and it did not get any easier.

My mother was diagnosed with lymphoma and is a patient at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She is an extraordinarily strong and giving person who raised a family of seven, teaching all of us the importance of family.  I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for the cutting-edge care and kind support that both my mother and I received at The Princess Margaret.

We wanted to give back.

In 2013, while I was undergoing treatment, my sister Andrea created an 11 member Walk “Team Carroll”, which we subsequently developed into Team McCarthy Tétrault. We have been walking ever since. Today our team is made up of more than 30 walkers. We have raised more than $686,605 to support cancer research and care at The Princess Margaret.

Our team walks in honour of all the loved ones we’ve lost through the years to cancer, those who are being treated for cancer and cancer survivors.

Today, I am pleased to serve as an Honorary Chair of the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer and Leader of Team McCarthy Tétrault.

Cancer has touched too many of our colleagues, families and friends.
To show our gratitude for the outstanding treatment at The Princess Margaret and to support vital research and new innovative therapies, we WALK ON!

Mary DeNigris-Ascione participated in her twentieth Walk last year. She continues to Walk for all of her loved ones — including former students — who have been affected by cancer in this lifetime.

“2018 [marked] my twentieth Walk. I first started walking back in 2004 and have raised about $47,000 for The Princess Margaret since then. Every year the Event is always an introspective weekend for me—and because of that I walk solo. I like that time to reflect and think as I’m walking. Over the years, my two aunts, mother, mother-in-law, and former student have all been affected by cancer. While I continue to walk in their honour, this year is a bit different. I guess this time around it really hit home that you’re never really scot-free. Years ago the myth was that if you’re five years cancer free then you’re cancer free; but for my aunt, even after twenty-five years it’s back. You think you’ve gone long with being okay. You think they’re good! But are you ever really good? It just became scarier. It keeps getting closer and closer in my family and it keeps getting scarier and scarier. But together, as a family, we channel our hope, courage and determination through our devotion to the Walk—whether it’s by participating or fundraising. The Walk is our opportunity to make something good out of something bad.”

For Preeti Joshi, giving back is personal and comes from the heart. That is why she participates in the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer on Team CIBC.

“My husband was diagnosed at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre four years ago with a very rare form of cancer, called salivary gland carcinoma. He was 47 with no other health issues, but had a tumour that needed to be removed. After two months of recovery he went back to work, but around mid-summer the next year, the cancer had spread to his brain. He sadly passed away two years ago.

I don’t think there was a single appointment he went to on his own or with someone else. I wanted to be there for all of it and my managers were extremely supportive.

The cancer centre staff was incredible from the beginning to end. The oncologist who did his radiation gave me his personal cell because he knew we wouldn’t misuse it. We always experienced that level of trust with the volunteers, doctors and nurses. The volunteers were so invested – in the chemo lounge there’s a bell patients ring when they finish their last round of treatment and everyone claps, which is so emotional. The palliative care resources were very helpful when we chose home care for the last few weeks.

When I decided I wanted to get involved in the OneWalk last year, I wasn’t ready for the response – a surge of people from team CIBC joined me. I moved to Brampton, and my Mississauga district continued to support me. Last year’s walk was on September 9, that was the day he had his first surgery. It was my way of honouring him and showing support to The Princess Margaret for all they did. The beauty of this Walk is that it lets me choose the type of research my money will support, and mine goes towards the rare cancers we don’t often hear about.

But mostly, it’s to help my sons learn to appreciate what we have, and that even though we are sad, we need to remember to be grateful for the time we had with him. Seeing my sons get motivated and develop a deep understanding of how to turn a sad experience into a positive one, by volunteering or helping others, was the best thing that came of all this. I work hard to stay strong and set an example for my sons.”

On March 17, 2016, Susan Devitt was diagnosed with colon cancer. But after undergoing surgery and six months of chemotherapy, she is now cancer-free.

Susan shares why she is “Powering Up” for our OneWalk Community through her team, The Susanators, with her son and grandson this September.

“I know that not everyone is this lucky. I met many people throughout treatment and sadly some of them aren’t here anymore. It hurts not to hear their voices or see their faces. It sucks that they were taken.

My grandson Liam’s other grandmother, Donna, was diagnosed with brain cancer the same week I was diagnosed. She lost her battle just five weeks later.

The Susanators have already reached 50 per cent of our fundraising goal. We’ve worked together to send emails to our contacts, family members and friends to help us get here. We are committed to crossing that finish line together later this summer, and so we’re devoted to meeting and surpassing our $4,500 target.

We’re all in this together, so why not give?”

Strength in numbers. It’s how we make an impact for cancer patients and their families across Ontario, and it’s why Jessica is Walking with her friend, Angie, this September.

“I am a close friend of colleague and fellow OneWalk participant Angie Morris. In July 2012, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent treatment at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Three years later, the cancer would return, caught after she experienced an odd pain in her back.

Angie’s journey with the disease was the first time that I had seen someone go through it all from start to finish. The whole thing is overwhelming to watch and almost impossible to comprehend. I learned so much from her during that time, and truly came to understand how much it takes to fight this terrible disease.

There is so much involved, there are so many doctors and so many nurses and so many tests—just trying to figure out how to help a patient and pick the right course of treatment. Being there beside Angie has shown me exactly what the money raised through events like OneWalk can accomplish. It’s also shown me how much more we need to do.

The best part about walking with Angie, and the other members of Team Hershey, is that we spend eight hours talking, exploring Toronto, laughing, sharing stories about work and our personal lives and of course listening to others’ inspiring stories with every footstep. OneWalk provides a wonderful team-building opportunity for workplaces and businesses and offers a chance for friendships to grow and blossom.”

Walker Joanne Genova-Facchinelli understands just how difficult it can be to carve out time to train, but she also knows that with each step forward, we are getting even closer to conquering cancer in our lifetime. She shares with our OneWalk Community how she remains committed to her training schedule…

“Since 2004, I have been walking to conquer cancer in this lifetime. Why? Ten years prior to that, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent treatment in Toronto. After I had my son in 2004, I started supporting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in my dad’s honour. Today, I’m still giving back to The Princess Margaret, but in celebration of my dad’s good health. He is now 80 and has been cancer free for 15 years.

Taking the OneWalk challenge means committing to fundraising, and I hope that my team and I will once again be able to raise thousands of dollars for The Princess Margaret. The first step in reaching our fundraising goal is spreading awareness, and that’s why I’ve decided to share my story.

In addition to raising crucial dollars, though, we participants have to remember the importance of training for the 25-kilometre journey throughout Toronto’s unique neighborhoods.

I work as a teacher and will always be the first person to tell you how challenging training in the winter months can be. Stepping up when it’s frigid and dark outside after a long day with students and post-work to-dos is no easy feat. Still, it’s important we find the time.

We have to think about training as a way to give back to ourselves. Anyone can raise the money, but for me, the best part about joining OneWalk is the ability to get my own health up to par. Each day, I set a goal for myself—whether it’s going to the gym for 20 minutes or finding time to attend a full-length fitness class. Achieving these goals is rewarding in itself!

Each winter, I step up my game and do boot camp three to four times a week. I run a lot, too, but on a treadmill when it’s icy and 20 below with the wind-chill.

As a mother of two, I know how important it is to set an example for those younger than us. We need to keep moving not only for our health, but also for the individuals who will soon cross the paths we’ve already travelled. Even if you make just one step forward, never forget: It is better than taking one step back.”

Sue Bell is no stranger to cancer. This survivor was treated at The Princess Margaret for ovarian cancer, and because of the excellent care Sue received, she was inspired to Walk to make sure that others get the same chance to conquer their cancers.

Having Walked last year as part of Team Happy Aardvark No More, Sue and her husband will be back again this September. She shares with the rest of our powerful OneWalk community why this event is so important.

“When I first learned about the Rexall™ OneWalk to Conquer Cancer™ benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, I was undergoing chemotherapy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. It really hit me. I had never seen anything before that was a walk for all cancers, and I was immediately inspired to sign up.

At the time, I was living with a rare non-aggressive form of stage two ovarian cancer. Throughout the journey, doctors kept telling me that my cancer was not only treatable, that it was also curable.

And for me, that is what OneWalk is all about: A person like myself going into treatment, learning that there are options. Every day, I feel like I have won the lottery because I had the opportunity to be treated at one of the top-five cancer research centres in the world. Everyone should have that option, and that’s why I’m back, walking for my second time on Team Happy Aardvark No More.

Team Happy Aardvark No More is ready to walk with thousands of people for one common goal once more! Come September, we’re all walking our way to the top!”

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