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Meet our 2018 Wellspring Warriors

Name:  Kevin Haviland

Home City:  Whitby, Ontario

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis:  Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. Diagnosed a year ago in June 2017. It has been a whirlwind since. I work with a great Oncologist, Marcus Butler out of the Princess Margaret hospital. I am on my third form of Immunotherapy, and have had had three different procedures to help with brain lesions/tumours. I am on a three month cycle of MRI and CT scans to track heart and brain tumours, as well as several spots in my torso.

Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey:  Wellspring helped align me with the Melanoma Network and I attend group meetings monthly. It has helped to have a group to sit and discuss the disease with on our own terms.

Favourite pastime: Mountain Biking

Looking forward to most in Vegas:  Celebrating with two great friends, Darcy McDonald and Paul Eldridge, on their great accomplishment. Also thanking Wellspring for all the hard work put into helping people cope, and get control after having the news dropped on them.

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: It’s not over, until it’s over…. Take every day in, and make the most of it.

Elvis – Yes or No?:  Sounds Fun

Anything else to note or share?:  All in all, this disease has been easy for the most part (relatively anyway ?).  All I need to do is put my socks on in the morning… I am truly lucky to have amazing support from my family and friends. My wife has been amazing, and a constant for me. I truly believe we will make it through this, there is no other option.

 

Name: Tracy Pieczara

Home City: Burlington, Ontario

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis: In December of 2016, I was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer – stage 3+. Two weeks later, I undertook an intense chemotherapy treatment plan of 9 weeks. Following my treatment, I underwent a total gastrectomy and had my entire stomach removed. Following my surgery I underwent another 4 weeks of chemotherapy. Over the past year I had to relearn how to eat with no stomach. At this time, I’m happy to say that I am cancer free!

Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey: My daughter introduced me to Wellspring shortly after my diagnosis. Initially I was resistant to get help but once I came to Wellspring I fully embraced it. I started with the yoga program because I had a chemo bottle attached to me for the entire 9 weeks. It was a great program because it was suitable for my condition at that time. The meditation, visualization and brain fog programs helped me cope with stress, anxiety and fear during my journey. The nutrition program helped me learn what foods I need to eat and how to survive without a stomach. The reiki programs have given me much needed calm and relaxation. Most recently, I extremely enjoyed the drumming program which provided me with enjoyment and incredible relaxation and I greatly recommend the program to everyone.  Most importantly, it has been very important for me to connect with people and staff who have been and are going through the same struggles and understand me. The staff at Wellspring are extremely helpful and supportive. I feel so much love at Wellspring and a sense of belonging. I never feel like I’m in my cancer journey alone.

Favourite pastime: Travelling, gardening and yoga

Fun Fact: My grandkids think I’m a super grandma because I’m brave and do every possible activity with them such as zip lining at age 63.

Looking forward to most in Vegas: Adventure, new experiences (I’ve never been!) and cheering on the riders and their amazing journey at the finish line!

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: Thank you so much for riding for me and everyone who is and has been affected by cancer. You are amazing!!! Your incredible and hard journey reflects the hardships of the cancer journey that so many of us have to go through every single day.

Your cheerleading style: Loud, happy, encouraging and expressive. Our team ‘The Cheetahs’ won the team spirit award at the Wellspring Lace Up for Love run this Spring in Burlington.

Slots or Tables (or neither): Slots

Elvis – Yes or No?: Yes

Anything else to note or share?: I’m super excited at the opportunity to be a Wellspring Warrior and help Wellspring bring more amazing programs to people needing support.

Name:  Louise Margaret Granahan

Home City:  Toronto

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis:  I doubled over in pain one day and my doctor thought it was a kidney stone.  The ultrasound didn’t find a kidney stone but instead found a large tumour on my right ovary.  I had a full hysterectomy.  During my recovery I asked my doctor to send me for my first mammogram and just two months after my hysterectomy they found two tumours on my right breast.  I had a lumpectomy and a year later had a double mastectomy  

Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey: I know the importance of having people around you who have gone through similar circumstances. When we connect with others we no longer feel that we are going through this alone

Favourite pastime:  Anything that involves water – swimming, canoeing, kayaking, dragon boating.

Fun Fact:  I took up acting when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have been in many movies and TV shows.  One movie even won an Oscar!

Looking forward to most in Vegas:  Zip lining!

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: I can’t imagine the commitment and determination you are showing in this event. Thank you so much for your contribution. I can’t wait to meet all of you!

Your cheerleading style:  I’m loud and I can whistle!  I have my own pom poms!

Slots or Tables (or neither):  Neither

Elvis – Yes or No?:  Ugh

Home city: Ajax, Ontario
Name: Percy Lacireno – written by his wife, Micheline

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis:  On June 2, 2017 I took Percy to the Ajax hospital, because I thought he was having a stroke. The doctor advised us that he wasn’t having a stroke but that had a brain tumour, glioblastoma. We were shocked to say the least! He was transported to St Michael’s hospital where he had surgery on June 4, 2017. This was followed with chemo and radiation at Sunnybrook hospital. The treatments were quite aggressive.

The doctor at Sunnybrook gave him 9 months to live. He had a second surgery in February where they took out part of the tumour, which was the size of a small orange, this was to give him a couple more months.

We are currently in month 14 and he is starting week 15 of not getting out of bed at all!

 Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey: Once he started the treatments at Sunnybrook, we registered at Wellspring. They were extremely kind and advised us of the programs that were available. Unfortunately, we did not use the programs as Percy was too exhausted during the treatments. Several people from Wellspring would call and would follow up on how he was doing.

We have been supporting Wellspring for many years and we continue to do so.

Favourite pastime: Traveling. He also played squash every week and was doing this for like 30 years.

Fun Fact: He also loved mountain biking. Two weeks before the diagnosis he rode his bike over 200 km with his biking buddies in the Niagara area. They would do this several times per year.

He visited Las Vegas in June 2016 and loved it!

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: His words to the bike riders would be love what you’re doing! Enjoy the surroundings and the people with you.

Slots or tables or neither: Slots

Elvis Yes or no?: Yes

Name: Corinne Warlow

Home City: Brampton, Ontario

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis: A routine chest x-ray in August 2017 indicated a shadow that needed to be looked into right away. Soon doctor appointments became tests, more appointments and more tests. In early fall I was diagnosed with cancer. It was scary and shocking. I had no symptoms, we had caught it early. I have recently completed chemo and radiation therapy with good results thanks to the support of my team of doctors, family and friends. Special shout out to Dr. Jason Clifford who has been unfailing in his knowledgeable support and compassion.

Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey: Wellspring has made my journey humane! Hospitals and medical doctors do an amazing job but it can be a cold, clinical experience. Wellspring immediately made me feel like I was not alone and that other “real folks” who had been through this challenge were there for me to lean on. I always felt welcome. Everyone at Wellspring Chinguacousy is positive and upbeat. Always ready with a smile. I’ve accessed many of the different programs and they have helped me get through a difficult time.

Favourite pastime: I am an avid quilter and enjoy walking my dog Alfred through the local parks. I also enjoy reading especially Terry Pratchett books.

Fun Fact: This will be my first time in Las Vegas.

 Looking forward to most in Vegas: Seeing the strip and maybe catching a show.

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: We are waiting for you in Vegas riders. Just keep on pedaling and you will be welcomed with open arms. Can’t wait to hear your stories about the trip! 

Your cheerleading style:  Loud and Proud

Slots or Tables (or neither): Slots, but … it would be fun to try a table. Anybody want to join me?

Elvis – Yes or No?  YES !  Viva Las Vegas baby.

Anything else to note or share? This opportunity has been a big motivator as I get back to being myself again after treatment. Thank you.

Name: Caroline Butchey

Home City: Toronto, Ontario

A little bit about your cancer diagnosis: There are certain days in a person’s life that they will never forget. Cancer D-day brings back so many memories for me. I was completely blind-sided by what a cancer diagnosis would do to me – mentally and physically, and the impact it would have on my family, my career and how dramatically it would change the outlook I had on life and my priorities.

It was shortly after Mother’s Day in 2015 when I felt a very small lump in my left breast and after some gentle prodding from family members in the medical field, I proceeded to have a mammogram which was followed by an ultrasound and then a biopsy of the left breast and lymph node. I had a sinking feeling that the lymph node biopsy wasn’t necessarily “routine” screening and for the first time, it crossed my mind that I may actually have cancer. Unfortunately, it would be another week before the results would confirm this truth, and in the meantime, my mind played tricks on me and I struggled with trying to return to my “normal” life as a Vice President, a wife, and mother to my two kids, Jessica (13) and Jaden (11).  The physical pain from the biopsy was amplified by the emotional pain and fear for my future. I made a resolution to ensure that I live each moment to the fullest and seize every opportunity to enjoy life, smile and demonstrate resilience.

Fast forward to today – I think I have held true to that resolution. I approached my chemo, surgery and radiation with optimism and a faith in the medical community. The nurses and doctors at Sunnybrook were extremely supportive and minimized any negative side effects. The heaviest blow to my cancer journey came when I received the surgical pathology report and associated Stage 3C prognosis due to extra nodal extensions (the cancer had spread to 12 out of 14 of my lymph nodes and outside of the lymph nodes). Needless to say, this was a significant shock to everyone, including the doctors. The prognosis comes with a much shorter life expectancy and I have become a warrior in my crusade against beating the odds.

Big decisions were made. Life took on a “new normal”. Health and happiness became paramount. I now cherish and devote my time to enjoying things that I love, which is the heartfelt advice I would give to anyone facing a cancer challenge.

Wellspring’s impact on your cancer journey: I was introduced to Wellspring many years ago as I volunteered on a Women in Capital Markets Committee who partnered with Wellspring for an annual Spring fashion show fundraiser. As I attended the event as a volunteer over the years, I was deeply moved by the stories that would come forward by the participants who had endured remarkable stories of resilience and hope through the loss and adversity of their cancer journeys. However, at that time, Wellspring was just another charity to me that helped people coping with a cancer diagnosis.

Over the last 3 years, Wellspring has become so much more to me and I have seen firsthand how greatly the services and programs continue to help not only cancer patients, but their families and caregivers. I first walked through the welcoming doors of the Wellspring Westerkirk shortly after my diagnosis, accompanied by my mother. Immediately, we were ushered in to meet with someone who listened to our story, comforted us and offered us several ideas to help us cope with the information we were still processing on treatment options, and shared with us the many supportive services and programs offered at the Centre (yoga, meditation, group therapy, Nourish etc.). I was instinctively drawn to the Nourish program that focused on plant-based ingredients which have cancer fighting potential. My mom and I enrolled in the class and we were both delighted at the professionalism and warmth to the class environment. Other programs such as Healing Journey and Yoga were both run by experts who share their personal energy and compassion with all members, and everyone at the centre has a “healing touch” which allows you to leave feeling more hopeful, at peace and rejuvenated. All the programs were a wonderful distraction to the regular cancer treatments and the centre was a great oasis to escape to between treatments where you felt like you were welcome and accepted (with or without hair).

I became so passionate about the programs and services offered by Wellspring that in 2017 I became a Peer Support and Nourish Kitchen volunteer. I also volunteer on Wellspring’s System Performance External Review Committee which measures the performance of Wellspring centres across Canada to ensure they are optimizing strategies to deliver the Wellspring mission in their communities.

Favourite pastime: Organizing events around food (special dinners, family/friend gatherings etc.) or simply making up an excuse to have an event and celebrate life!

Fun Fact: After years of loving to cook and dabble in culinary arts, I recently enrolled in “Chef School”.

Looking forward to most in Vegas: Connecting with the amazing and motivational riders who have dedicated their personal time and energy to helping such a great cause.

Wise words and encouragement to share with the riders: We are connected by a shared passion and goal – to bring awareness and sustainability to Wellspring in order to support their tremendous programs and services which help thousands of people coping with a cancer diagnosis. I am 100% on your team and look forward to taking this Vegas journey with you and to try and beat odds which are not only against me, but to also bring hope and support to so many others who are facing a cancer journey of their own! Together – we will show the world our resilience, that smiles follow pain and that we can enjoy each precious moment that life brings.

Your cheerleading style: Endless smiles, motivating words and warm hugs

Slots or Tables (or neither): I would vote for Tables as it would be a great place for “people” watching

Elvis – Yes or No?: If he’ll be there, my mother will be in seventh heaven!

Anything else to note or share: The journey has continued to be a “bumpy” one with regular tests, a few additional biopsy “scares” etc, but so far – so good!

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