she believed she could, so she did: why I am running a half-marathon and why I want to use it to support Ovarian Cancer Canada
who I am:
I am 39 years old and live in Collingwood Ontario with my husband Carl, our 3-year old son Finnegan and our cats Penny Lane and Eleanor Rigby. I like to experiment in the kitchen, ski/snowboard at Blue Mountain with Carl, watch trashy reality tv and go for dinners/drinks with a circle of amazing girlfriends at home and in Toronto.
In my professional life, I have been in the ovarian cancer research field for 16+ years. I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto and Post Doctoral training at the BC Cancer Agency before working as a Scientific Associate at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for several years until early 2020. I am now a Scientific Advisor at Ovarian Cancer Canada, the only national charity dedicated to overcoming ovarian cancer.
In the past year, I have become very open about my 20+ year struggle with anxiety and depression. I have always been a stereotypical ‘high-achiever’ and have only recently started making changes purely designed to increase my own mental/physical health and happiness. Joining the Ovarian Cancer Canada team and training for my first half marathon are two of these changes…I want to bring these together to help women with and at risk of ovarian cancer live fuller, better, longer lives.
this may be dramatic, but running has changed my life:
When I moved back to Collingwood in June 2018, I knew I was in a bad place both mentally and physically. I have always loved spinning so decided to sign up for a free trial pass at Buddha Rider in town to see if I could kick start something; since then, the studio has become a safe place thanks to amazing and supportive teachers like Shirlee and Melissa. It also introduced me to Andrew, a long-time triathlete/coach; he had a tough exterior but we quickly developed a friendly rapport and he pushed my fitness to new levels.
When I was looking for a new challenge in Sept 2019, Coach Andrew suggested I run the Thornbury 10K the following month. I did better than I expected, leading to a coffee chat about setting some higher goals during which I reluctantly agreed to sign up for the Mississauga half-marathon on May 3, 2020. Since then, I have unexpectedly fallen head over heels with running. It has given me the courage to leave the high-stress environment of academia and jump into a new career. It provides a healthy outlet when anxiety and depression resurface. It makes me feel like a superhero, even on the days when it does not come easy. In essence, I have never felt so comfortable with who I am and what I can achieve. When the half-marathon was postponed, I knew I had to continue working towards this goal, even if I had to run solo.
why ovarian cancer:
I was first drawn to ovarian cancer as a field as a U of T summer student in May 2003; at the time, there was so little known about its biology and therefore a lot of space for scientific discovery. So much has changed, yet so much remains the same since that time. Collectively we have learned more about the different types of ovarian cancer and how they are each unique in their origins, genetic alterations, clinical behaviour and outcomes. Promising new treatments have been discovered and implemented into clinical care. We have learned about a large number of genes for which inheritance of a mutated copy can increase a women’s risk of ovarian cancer during her lifetime. We have also learned about effective ways of reducing this risk using both surgical and non-surgical approaches.
Despite these advances, long-term outcomes for women with ovarian cancer have not changed over the past 20 (or even 50) years. We need to continue to be diligent about discovering ways to combat this disease, improve the quality of life of women living with ovarian cancer and to educate and empower women to pursue genetic testing and risk-reducing options if they choose. Little did I know that the choice I made as a summer student would lead me to my life’s work.
how you can help:
These are uncertain times and many people may not be in the position to donate. Please consider showing your support in any of the following ways:
1) Moral support as I persevere through 21.1km :)
2) Share this page
3) Join me for a (socially distant/virtual) run on May 3, for whatever distance makes you feel good. Share your run on social + add the hashtag #runforOCC
4) Donate $21.10 ($1 for every km I will run)
5) Become a team member and ask 10 of your friends to donate $21.10 each
Together we can support the continued work at Ovarian Cancer Canada to help women live fuller, better, longer lives... See you on May 3!
Alicia T, scientist/mom/runner
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