The past few days have been surreal. I anticipated the first day of the run for quite some time, but now that it is here and the run has started, the nerves and everything that I was anxious about has finally been lifted.
Today’s blog was heading in one direction, but after a very emotional visit to Lakeridge Health’s oncology unit, I felt I wanted to write about my mom again tonight.
I am very grateful to be working at Humber College. I work in the “cool” school known as HRT (Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism) with many wonderful people. If it wasn’t for teaching, I don’t know where I would be today. My mom always dreamed of being a teacher. When my brother and I were young, my mom worked as a teacher’s aid. She was a natural artist and was known for designing the walls of her kindergarten classes. I definitely didn’t get her artistic gene, but thankfully my brother did. The first day of Sophie’s Run II was an emotional day. Our students in the Fitness and Health Promotions Program planned the 5km run/launch of the run, and our Hospitality Event Management and HTOM (Hospitality Tourism Operations Management) students volunteered and created an awareness event on campus. I know that my mom was looking down proud. Although she didn’t achieve her dream as a teacher on earth, her legacy engaged and inspired our HRT students. From above, her dream of teaching is being realized.
The first few days of the run have been tough, but we are finally settling into a routine. Today was our first awareness event at Lakeridge Health. Just like the first day of Sophie’s Run II, today was also a very emotional day. I will never forget the day my mom had her first chemotherapy treatment. Our family was anxious and nervous about the unknown. As we walked into her first chemotherapy treatment, we noticed a bell that was hung up in the oncology area. As I sat there waiting for my mom to be called in, I wondered what the bell was for. My mom’s first round of chemotherapy went very well. We were welcomed into Credit Valley’s Oncology Unity and instantly felt part of a larger family. Everyone waiting and receiving chemotherapy had a quiet bond that was united by hope and a strong faith. At the end of my mom’s first round of chemotherapy we were introduced to the bell. We were told that my mom would ring the bell on her last day of chemotherapy. The bell was significant because it symbolized strength, hope, and in some small way, fear. Fear that one would not get to ring the bell. Although my mom fought the fight of her life and taught me the true meaning of strength, unfortunately, she did not get to ring the bell.
Today, as we made our way into the oncology unit at Lakeridge Health, we had the honour of meeting Henry Westerhof. Henry is currently battling Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer and is in his 7th month of treatment. He inspired me today. His strength and courage is something that I will take with me for the remainder of the run. I know that Henry will ring the bell at Lakeridge Health.
The ending of our tour and visit at Lakeridge Health was marked with a symbolic ring of the bell. Although my mom never got to ring the bell, I was able to ring it for her today. When I rang it, the entire room cheered. Today’s bell made me realize that my mom did win her battle with cancer. She won it because she never let it define her. I don’t want my mom to be remembered for not ringing the bell. I want her to be remembered for the person she was. She was an artist and someone who dreamed of helping others. Today’s bell ring was symbolic and something that I will forever be grateful for.