How has your life been changed by blood cancer?
It showed me how important it was to be an advocate for my body. I think of all those times that I complained about feeling exhausted and I just assumed it was because I work full-time, have 3 kids & a busy life. I had to learn to advocate for the fact that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I was stage 4, and I now know this is common with my type of cancer unfortunately. I just keep remembering that I have to get to the other side, where it’s all nothing but a memory, I have no choice.
I am so incredibly blessed to have such a HUGE supportive family and I couldn’t imagine not having them.
What gives you hope?
Hands down, the thing that gives me hope is my kids, husband and amazing family. Even in those dark days, when the most terrible thoughts run through your mind, you just keep going for them. I had to show them that it’s not always a death sentence. I think I worked hard at proving that to them.
Who inspires you?
My Godson Miles inspires me every day, he was a true fighter, I carry his strength in my heart and I hope he is proud that his motto lives on in our team name… You’ll Never Walk Alone.
What advice or message would you tell someone who is in the thick of treatment during COVID?
If you’re going through treatment, especially in this frightening time, you just have to do what feels right for you. If what feels right is putting on a hazmat suit before you go to the grocery store then do it. Now is the time to truly advocate for yourself and do whatever you need to do to stay safe.
What is your favourite Light The Night memory?
It’s such an emotional day, I always have a lump in my throat from the start of the day to the end. It makes me feel amazing to see my family come together to support me.
I’ve enjoyed seeing my 17 year old son being so involved, I guess I just didn’t expect it (he is after all a teen boy, lol). We make our own shirts every year, and he saves them all! He puts them up on his bedroom walls/ceiling. All of my kids have made me so proud.
The first year I walked I was days from just completing my last chemo treatment, my warrior Mom was determined to walk with me even though she had her own health problems. Although I told her she didn’t have to do the whole walk if it was too much, she said “If Tonya can do this, I can & will” …. And she did.