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Local paramedic will Run the Great Lakes in honour of her bone marrow donor

Two years ago, Sherri Rathwell was receiving cancer treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The diagnosis was fast and, of course, unexpected. This year, on June 11th 2023, she will Run the Great Lakes for the second time.

Sherri stands in the Sault Area Hospital lobby wearing a bright orange T-shirt an illustration of a sugar skull on the front. The skull shape is divided in two, and the right hand side contains the quote, “They whispered to her, you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back, I am the storm.”
Sherri Rathwell runs to honour her bone marrow donor. She wears the t-shirt that her colleagues wore for her. The text reads, “They whispered to her, you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back, I am the storm.”

“In the summer of 2020, I went to my doctor after feeling unusually short of breath. Because I had recently helped move my parents out of their home, I thought I was just tired – but after falling asleep at a family Father’s Day dinner, I knew that something was wrong.”


Sherri was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. In November 2020, she had a bone marrow transplant at The Ottawa Hospital.


“I wanted to get in touch with my donor to thank her for what she had done for me. The hospital that performed my transplant has a process to make this kind of request after a year has passed – so in November 2021, I was able to connect with my donor.” Sherri learned that her bone marrow donor was a runner and was inspired to start running herself.


“I run to honour her,” Sherri shares. “Last year, Run the Great Lakes was my goal. I wanted to be able to complete that race.”


Sherri started with a couch to 5K program on her mobile phone. It wasn’t always easy to get up and run, but she had a lot of people motivating her.


“My husband, my kids and family have been amazing,” Sherri shares, “And my friends and colleagues at work have been awesome.” Sherri is a paramedic, and her colleagues supported her from afar throughout her cancer treatment. When a friend made t-shirts for her, Sherri’s colleagues all wore them to work, and sent her pictures to show they were thinking of her. Sherri explains, “I wore that t-shirt when I completed Run the Great Lakes last year.”


She also had a photograph of Terry Fox on her wall given to her by family friends that inspired her to keep on trying when she felt like giving up. “If he could get up and run when it was hard, then so can I!” Sherri shares.


Sherri explains that her outlook and priorities have changed following her cancer diagnosis. “Every day that I can put in front of my diagnosis is a good day. It is important to remember that because some of us don’t get healthy. Some of us don’t make it.”


Sherri continues to receive cancer care follow up at Sault Area Hospital. “I have received phenomenal care from everyone,” she says, “I am under the supervision of Dr. Hill, who is very happy with my progress.”


Sign up today to join Sherri and the hundreds of other runners who participate in Run the Great Lakes at rungreatlakes.com. The race takes place on June 11th, 2023 at Delta Hotel. 100% of your registration fee will support Sault Area Hospital Foundation and ARCH Hospice!


You can support Sault Area Hospital Foundation with or without your running shoes. To give today, head to sahfoundation.com/donate or call us on 705-759-3848.

 

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