One More Year, one step at a time
Diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma, Lionel Strang on his One More Year walk through Bradford, Ont. on Monday August 21, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network
On Sept. 12, 2014, doctors at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie told Lionel Strang that he had Stage 4 Melanoma, and probably less than a year to live.
“You shut down,” Strang says, when given news like that.
Strang asked for a referral to Princess Margaret, Canada’s leading cancer research centre and the first to introduce a Psychosocial Oncology Clinic – and began counting the days on Facebook.
“I didn’t really expect to get past more than a couple of hundred days,” he says. But as his first anniversary approached, friend Barbara Webster decided to celebrate with a fundraising barbecue, raising $1,200 for Princess Margaret.
The money goes to the Psychosocial Oncology Clinic. “The rest of the hospital fights cancer,” Strang explains. The Psychosocial Clinic fights the brain — the negativity and depression that can follow a cancer diagnosis.
By his second anniversary of survival, the barbecue raised $8,000 and the event had a new name: One More Year.
“Simply put, One More Year refers to the fact that I, along with thousands of others, have managed to last one more year with cancer, even after some of us were told we would have already lost our battle. This is thanks, in large part, to the support of the doctors and staff of Princess Margaret Hospital,” Strang says.
He’s now approaching his 1,096th day of survival, and to mark the milestone he is walking from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, to Barrie, wearing an electric blue One More Year t-shirt. At times he is accompanied by family members; at other times he walks alone.
He trained by walking 10 to 12 kilometres at least once a week, starting back in June. “I would pick a day, and regardless of what the weather was, I would do it,” says the 63-year-old cancer patient. “It was a way to prepare.”
Monday was Day 3 of his walk, and Strang covered the distance from Wellington St. in Aurora, to Bradford - on his way to the third annual One More Year barbecue, taking place on Aug. 26 in Oro-Medonte.
He paused briefly in Bradford, to point out an apartment building on Centre Street — “The first place I lived when I got married.” — then went a little further.
It’s slow going. “I got blisters,” Strang says, but he has no complaints. “The blisters and the heat and the sweat — it all feels great to me!”
To follow the walk, see LionelJStrang on facebook.com. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/one-more-yearbbq. This year, the goal is to raise $15,000 for the Princess Margaret.