It’s a beautiful fall day. The sun is bright and warms the cool, fall air. In communities across Canada Terry Fox’s life is being celebrated. He was a humanitarian and cancer activist. This is how Dani wants to be described one day as well. Today she had her first opportunity to share her story publicly as Renfrew held its Terry Fox Run. The company my bestie works for was founded in the small town just west of Ottawa, where there are no strangers. Deslaurier Custom Cabinets was a sponsor of the event and as a result, Dani was asked to be the guest speaker.
We met at the venue. Dani rocked her shades and bald head. We hugged as we always do when we greet each other. “I probably should have worn sunscreen” she says laughing and rubbing her head.
It’s about a nanosecond before Dani’s chatting with people she knows. I spot someone I haven’t seen in a few years. Turns out Katie is doing some freelance journalist work and would love to meet Dani. As the two chat, the expression in Katie’s face says it all as she learned the details of Dani’s story: disbelief.
After the interview wraps up we headed outside to kick off the run. Dani took her place at the mic. I stood off the side. Listening. Reliving the last few months. Without realizing it, tears were streaming down my face. I looked around and that is the case with almost everyone there.
She didn’t speak from a script. It was all from the heart. Powerful. Inspiring. Raw.
The race started and we decided to walk for a bit. I whip out my Walkers4Knockers t-shirt from Relay for Life. We laugh. “Of course you brought it,” Dani said.
Not knowing how long or for how far she can walk, we set-off. She’s in the middle of radiation and it’s only been a few weeks since her last chemo treatment. I am proud of her for even wanting to walk. Even more proud to be by her side. There are words of encouragement from strangers. Unsure smiles from those who don’t know what to say. A kilometer or so in, it’ was time to turn around. But it’s more than I could have asked for.
After the walk there was a BBQ and chance to visit with people some more. I could see Dani fading. It was a long day – both physically and emotionally. I interrupted with a “how ya doing lady?” and she looked at me with a thankful expression. Sometimes ya just know.
I am beyond proud of Danielle. To speak in front of any crowd can be nerve wracking. To tell your personal story is courageous.
At the same time I am also surprised that none of our other friends or family made it. Selfishly though, no one else has this memory to cherish.
The EMC newspaper was there to capture the event and Dani’s story. Read the article, Appreciative Participant, here.1