Etobicoke mother hopes Princess Margaret cancer walk will help find cure for other cancer patients
Little Ruby Lyon is proof that cancer research dollars can change – and save – lives.
Born with 13q deletion syndrome – a chromosomal disorder that not only causes intellectual disability and congenital malformations, but also an increased risk of retinoblastoma – eight-year-old Ruby was just the second child in Canada to receive the “miracle” drug that ended up saving her left eye from malignant tumours she developed as a baby.
“It was through wonderful research and everything that her doctors at SickKids ended up trying a drug that’s typically used for ovarian cancer to treat her eye,” Ruby’s mom, Suzanne, said of her then-four-month-old daughter’s successful treatment with the drug Topotecan.
“Ruby was one of the first fantastic outcomes where this drug worked. It was a miracle.”
It was that miraculous experience – and the knowledge that it was brought about by research dollars – that compelled both Ruby’s parents to want to give back.
While dad Joe participated in his first Ride to Conquer Cancer event shortly after Ruby was declared cancer-free just before her first birthday, Suzanne is set to lace up her walking shoes come Saturday, Sept. 10 for the second annual Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer, benefitting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
“You feel so helpless when you’re going through it, which is why I wanted to do this (walk) – to benefit other parents, other kids that are going through it now,” said Lyon, who will walk in the 25-km event through the streets of Toronto alongside her Etobicoke Walking Warriors teammates Andrea Best, Jackie White and Tammy Bradshaw.
“There has to be a cure out there, that’s why I’m doing this.”
All funds raised through the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer support Personalized Cancer Medicine at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which enables the hospital’s world-leading clinicians and researchers to detect cancers earlier, diagnose with more precision, target treatment for each patient, and support patients and their families throughout the cancer journey.
Last year’s inaugural event drew 4,523 participants, who raised a staggering $7.5 million to support the clinical enhancements, survivorship programs, and research of Dr. Tak Mak and his teams at Princess Margaret.
To contribute to their year’s fundraising tally, Suzanne and her fellow Etobicoke Walking Warriors teammates have already been hard at work preparing for their big walk on Sept. 10 – hosting barbecue, silent auction, garage sale and bake sale fundraisers, as well as going out on weekly training walks together as a team.
With the “amazing” support of family, friends and neighbours, the Etobicoke Walking Warriors have so far raised $6,288 towards their fundraising goal of $11,000.
But what she’s most looking forward to the day of the walk, Suzanne said, is seeing husband Joe, 13-year-old son Jack, and, of course, Ruby, cheering her on when she crosses the finish line at Nathan Phillips Square.
To donate to the Etobicoke Walking Warriors, go to http://bit.ly/2bFCepL
For more information about the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer, call 416-815-9255 (WALK) or go to www.onewalk.ca