Friday, March 16, 2012

Relay for Life Partnership Launch

I was honored last week to speak at the press launch for the newly formed partnership between the Canadian Cancer society, LRHS, Relay for Life and the London Health Sciences Foundation.

My friend Tam, from Ashley Oaks PS, forwarded my name to the Cancer Society to speak on behalf of survivors at the launch.  They asked me to share my experiences and participation in Relay for Life.

Below is my speech and links to the TV and paper coverages.

It was an excellent experience because the kids from AO were there along with Lennie, my brother, and Lindsay who works for the foundation. I held it together pretty well and even did an interview for Rogers (if you look closely you can see my stupid nose running)



"Thank you Paul,

Good morning, my name is Catherine Zeisner and my journey to today is a simple 1 year, this big girl trains for and completes the Chicago marathon, girl gets dream job, girl gets thyroid cancer, girl runs the Chicago marathon again to prove to the world that cancer will not beat her.

Believe it or not, these three intersecting aspects of my life are the greatest things that have ever happened to me. I am, in fact, thrilled that I got cancer. It is just what this workaholic, Type A, very selfish person needed at the age of 42. I needed to have the wind knocked out of my sails to be reminded of what and who is important. What I have gained from this past year is clarity, strength that I never knew I had, and an abundant amount of love.

I have received invaluable physical and emotional support from family and friends but what the London Health Sciences Center, Dr. Nichols & Dr. Rachinski, the Canadian Cancer Society, numerous health care professionals, and the Relay for Life have provided for me is top notch, timely and with

Feeling isolated, alone, and scared is a very natural reaction to a cancer diagnosis but with the Relay for Life partnership today, what you are doing is shining a light on the fact that many many people are here to help you, provide for you, and support you through the cancer journey.

I was honored to participate in the Relay for Life last June for the second time. The first time was a supporter for a group of staff, friends and teachers from my school. They promised me a good time and a lot of chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say we had a wonderful time walking, chatting, eating cookies and raising money. But 2011 was different. I was not there to walk with teacher friends raising money but now I was participating as a cancer patient during the Survivor Victory lap.

You would think that after running a marathon that the survivor victory lap at the Relay would be easy. Its just one lap around a track it not 42.2 kilometers. But in fact, you want the experience to last just as long. You walk in unison with fellow survivors, while your friends, family, care givers, and supportive strangers applaud your efforts and feelings well up inside you. It is amazing what a smiling face and applause does to a person when they are in a fight.

As a Vice-Principal at an elementary school, I had students and families from school lining the track to see me and it provided such pride and hope. I participated because I wanted to set a good example of resiliency, happiness in the face of adversity and the need for giving back. What is truly moving are the luminaries that line the track as you walk, celebrating the lives of survivors and those who no longer walk with us but are among the angels.

I had the word JOURNEY tattooed on my back this past summer as a reminder. Cancer truly is a journey where you learn so much more along the route than at your destination. Survivors, care givers, health care professionals, I am so proud of you, your accomplishments, your successes, you may not be able to see them but I see your capes, who you are... definitely defines the word super hero.

Cancer has changed me, changed me for the better. Just when you think you have lost so much, your health, happiness, hair, dignity, energy, you realize that in the process of losing you are in fact...gaining. Gaining strength of character, support, friends, love and a will to carry on to help eliminate this awful disease.

I will return to Chicago this October to run my 3rd marathon and know that I do not need to come in first place because just like dealing with cancer... “finishing is winning”. My 19 week training plan definitely includes that 1 lap of the track during the Relay for Life Survivor victory lap and it will be the best part of my training regime.

I wear my surgery scar and the Relay for Life pin with pride knowing that so many people are making a difference for me, cancer fighters, and those who have started their journeys to heaven earlier than the rest. I congratulate you all on this launch, this partnership and success for the Relay for Life 2012.

Thank you"