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Welcome back to our fourteenth
consecutive year of Kayaking for Cancer!
Here we are back again for another year. Our paddles are ready, bags are packed and trucks are filled for the long trek from Kingston to Ottawa. I always look forward to this week: the hard work, the laughs the tears, the hugs, the stories It’s like going home for family reunion: reminiscing with old friends and meeting new ones.
We moved to Kemptville 12 yrs ago. Danielle and Renee were in high school at St. Michael’s and it was through school that they came to know about K4C. Eight years ago Danielle decided to kayak because her new friends Michelle and Travis, were kayaking for their father who had passed away from cancer when they were young. It sounded like a great idea to get involved.
At the end of the week Danielle came home totally amazed by what had transpired that week. She told of the hard work on the water and sometimes the weather challenges but also the camaraderie that went on as they paddled. She talked about the evenings where they heard of the many stories of family members and friends that had suffered and passed away from cancer and some that had survived. Some of the survivors were part of the group. She said they laughed and cried, it was so emotional but heartwarming.
She also mentioned the crew that followed them and met them at the different locks and fed them, managed all the vehicles and kayaks She said I would have to check it out next year that I would enjoy it.
I did check it out the following summer and was touched and moved by the passion and commitment of this group and I was hooked.
I’ve gotten to know this special family that comes together yearly in August to put their paddles to work and tent for a week to help raise money for cancer. They are supported by a crew on the road who manage vehicles, boats, and kayaks and set up for the meals. A third group, are ladies that put the meals together. These ladies have come to be known as the ‘ Ladies of the Rideau’. This entire group is led by Kevin Dionne, an inspiring compassionate and thoughtful man who initiated this fundraiser in 2001. His dedication and commitment to this cause is inspiring.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of people in Kemptville and in the K4C family that were confronted by this beast called cancer some of whom lost the battle while others survived and still other continue to fight. Knowing these people has made my participation in this family even more meaningful and makes me more committed to help even more.
To be part of this unique family is a privilege. I so look forward to it every year. I enjoy making a meal or two and helping all week picking up supplies and doing whatever has to be done to get the paddlers from Kingston to Ottawa.
Last summer, as I served my perogies at one of the evening meals, little did I know that this beast had picked a fight with me. Two weeks after I returned home from K4C week I got a call that I was booked for biopsy. Ten days later it was confirmed Invasive breast cancer with possible lymph node involvement. Surgery was booked four weeks later, which revealed stage 2 with 3/10 nodes involved. Then for the next eight months followed the uncomfortable course of chemo and radiation.
However over the last year, my super, amazing, compassionate family, friends and neighbors have supported me. They supported me to the very end picking me up at my lowest moments. I am forever grateful to each and every one of them. I do have to mention a special group “ The Ladies of the Rideau”. They are a very special group of ladies not only a part of K4C but as personal friends. Their support was beyond belief: Candice, Nicki, Karen for your visits and meals, you have no idea how that kept me going, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Donna, thank you for your support and many uplifting texts. Your encouraging words were heartfelt and uplifting. To the kayakers Tiff and Cassandra and Kaleigh your little texts of “thinking of you” went a long way on the low days. Marion, thank you for your positive thoughts.
I don’t use Facebook much but I check it out once in a while and Mama Lou and Micheline, thank you for your thoughtfulness. Kevin, thank you for thinking of my family, through your emails. It’s been a long hard battle but we’ve come this far with all of your support and paddles.
I know this year is different, I’m doing this through the eyes of a survivor being forever grateful for people like the K4C family, who’s efforts provide funding for research to improve the treatments and survival of Cancer patients and to improve the quality of life. Some of us here this year are proof of your efforts.
My K4C family my hat goes off to you. I am so proud to be part of this amazingly unique group.
Paddle on my friends!