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Welcome back to our twelfth
consecutive year of Kayaking for Cancer!
We are at the end of another day of paddling, and I'm taking a break from the evening's campfire to write. We made amazing time today, coming into Rideau Ferry Harbour at a record 3:15 pm, despite the fact that the day started with Jenna flipping her kayak at the morning dock. Being day 4, the burn in our arms has left, and the days on the water seem to slide by. This is my second year kayaking with this crew, and once again we spent the day on the water having laughs, making memories, and getting to know each other's stories.
Wherever you fly, this isn't goodbye... This year my kayak comes bearing a tribute to my Partner in Crime, Cristina Roque. It was about this time last year that I received a lunchtime email from my best friend, cheering us all on into Ottawa. She commented on how it was ironic that we were working our hardest to get to Ottawa, while she was working her hardest to get out of Ottawa. Cristina was in Ottawa having treatments for Lymphoma that had appeared for the third time. Although she was not able to meet us at the Chateau Laurier, we met up at the hospital later that night and had a celebration of our own. To backtrack a little, many of the paddlers from last year say their most unforgettable memory was the cancer survivor we encountered in the locks, mine was arriving at Cristina's residence to streamers, balloons, a "Way to Paddle" sign, and the most inspiring girl in her housecoat and toque, being proud of the whole kayaking crew. Since this time last year Cristina went from being in remission - having some of the best times, to leaving us speechless when her body gave up during her fourth cancer fight, at the age of 29, this March. So to make a long story longer, my kayak will paddle into Ottawa holding a collage of photos of a life that had so much living left to do. Cristina pushed herself to live out loud and fought fiercely to do so until the end. She was so much more then this disease and I paddle to honour that. Although there will be a giant part of me missing at the end, the many people who have seen Cristina's photos and ask about her story remind me how this week matters.
A special thank you to Kevin for graciously asking me (a newbie) if I would like to write today's journal. Means the world considering all the close friends and family that were lost by many this year.
Back to the campfire, great friends, and resting up for Day 5 and our big Merrickville night. A year later, Is that love still in the air??