April 28th, 2015
Submitted by Colleen Maass
I'll never forget the day. Tina, my co-worker and friend, came to my desk. I thought she was coming to say goodnight, but she was coming to tell me she had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We had just been to a meeting together the day before.
No meeting for days after that one seemed important. Like me, Tina was a daughter, sister, aunt, mom, wife, career woman ... and a fighter. I was astonished to feel how personal the diagnosis felt.
When Tina left work at London Life to battle cancer, a team of people she worked with formed Team Tina in 2009 - just a few weeks before the seventh annual run and days after she was diagnosed. It was the only way we knew to fight.
Through treatments and experimental trials, Tina was with us for four runs. We lost her just after the run in 2012. That gave the team motivation to raise more money. In the six years that London Life Team Tina has been involved with the run, the team has raised close to $100,000 thanks to matching donations and volunteer grants from London Life.
I took it a step further and joined the run's organizing committee - a dedicated group of volunteers including one of the scientists who works at the London Regional Cancer Program. It's the most direct way to honour Tina and see the difference a grass-roots group of volunteers can make. I know first-hand, along with Tina's family, how the run has made it possible for Tina's very rare tumour cells to be part of a national research biobank, helping to improve the fight against the disease for others.
Before Tina, I didn't know anyone who had ovarian cancer. Since then, I've lost five friends to the disease. It's still personal.