Sindy Hooper

Surf City 1/2 Marathon

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Team Fundraising Goal: $50,000.00

Total Number of Gifts: 242
Total Value of Gifts: $47,517.00

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Anything is possible ...

Hi. My name is Sindy. I live in Ottawa, Canada and spend most of my time as a mom, wife and triathlete. I love to swim, bike and run. 2012 was a very special and memorable year for me as I trained for my first Ironman and tried, for the first time, to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship.

Through the spring and summer of 2012 my husband Jon and I spent a lot of time training with a wonderful group of friends. We trained through the week and spent most weekends swimming, biking and running from morning to dinner time. We loved the active, healthy lifestyle and the friendships that were developed as we tackled longer and longer training days together.

In June I raced a half Ironman (2k swim, 90k bike, 211k run) in Cambridge Maryland and missed qualifying for the Ironman World Championship by one place. In August I completed my first Ironman (4k swim,180k bike,42.2k run) in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, loved the day, finished in 11 hours and 38 minutes, and missed going to Hawaii by 2 places. Ironman was so much fun that a bunch of us registered for Ironman Canada, August 25th 2013 in Whistler BC.

Around my 50th birthday on Dec 9th, I started having some upper abdominal and mid back pain. At Christmas my skin became itchy and at New Year's I had stomach cramping and some diarrhea. On Jan 1st I was exceptionally tired after a 15k slow run and on Jan 2nd my eyes looked jaundiced. Jon arranged for blood work and an ultrasound that afternoon at The Civic Hospital, thinking I might have gall stones.

After an exceptionally long ultrasound the radiologist told me I had a malignant tumor on my pancreas, a cancer. Shock, disbelief, my world felt shattered. How is this possible when I'm in the best shape of my life? When Jon and I were alone I asked him "Is this a good cancer or a bad cancer to have?" He replied "a bad one" and we both cried, hugging each other not knowing what to say next.

I soon learned that the predisposing factors for pancreatic cancer are smoking, obesity, age over 55, African American heritage, pancreatitis, and diabetes. I had none of them. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in Canada and the lifetime probability of developing pancreatic cancer is approximately 1 in 79. It has the highest mortality rate of all the major cancers; 75% die within the first year of their diagnosis (most within the first 3 - 6 months) and 94% of patients die within 5 years. Surgery offers the best chance for long term survival, however, only 15% of patients are diagnosed early enough to be eligible for surgery.

I had a CT scan the next day, on January 3rd, to find out if the tumor I had was able to be removed or not. On Jan 4th I had an appointment with a really great surgeon; who confirmed that I should have surgery as soon as possible. For the next 3 days we all prayed that the tumor could be removed. I thought a lot about the possibility of only living for three to six more months, and I was absolutely terrified.

January 7th I was admitted to hospital and January 8th was surgery. I had a Whipple Procedure that lasted 7 hours and removed ½ of my pancreas, 1/3 of my stomach, my gallbladder and duodenum. I woke to learn the tumor had been removed. I was very fortunate to be in that small group of 15%. Recovery from Whipple surgery began. Pathology showed that there was no spread to lymph nodes, blood vessels or nerves, however, there was microscopic tumour left in two spots. I started chemotherapy on February 19th, once a week for 6 months. Radiotherapy will be every weekday from mid April to mid May.

Pancreatic cancer is not as well known as other cancers but it remains the deadliest. It claims nearly as many lives each year as breast and prostate cancer combined, yet remains underfunded and misunderstood. The 5-year survival rate has remained unchanged for decades; the only cancer with a 5-year survival rate still in the single digits at 6%.

When I registered for Ironman Canada last year my goal was to finish in 11 hours, make it onto my age group podium and earn my spot to race at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship. My goal now is to train for Ironman Canada, having as much fun as I can, while raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, and raising money to support pancreatic cancer research. I’d very much like to complete Ironman Canada within the 17 hour time limit and live up to the Ironman Motto "Anything is Possible."

People may wonder why continuing to be a triathlete and finishing an Ironman is so important to me while facing pancreatic cancer. One, it gets me through the dark overwhelming days, training not only keeps my body strong but my heart and soul strong as it temporarily frees me from the fears of the unknown. Second, although triathlon is an individual sport it is made up of a very supportive, loving group of people who genuinely care and encourage each other. I want to use my training to help spread awareness of pancreatic cancer.

My Journey with Pancreatic Cancer

To learn more about my experience with pancreatic cancer from diagnosis, surgery to my training for the Ironman - click on this link

Connect to my Blog - Making Every Moment Count

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Tue, Aug 12, 2014
I am truly inspired by your story. I am a renal cell carcinoma survivor. I just complete my first Ironman in Lake Placid at the age of 49. Keep kicking cancers butt, and inspiring others. You are an amazing role model.

Myriam Glotman
Mon, Jun 16, 2014
Sindy, you are a true inspiration. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer 9 years ago and my husband and I have been very involved in increasing awareness and fundraising for this terrible disease. We have a cycling club here in Vancouver which organizes the Cypress Challenge ( a 14km ride up Cypress Mountain) every year to raise funds for pancreatic cancer. We are expecting approx. 500 riders. We would love to have you as our guest speaker or just to do the ride August 16th here in Vancouver, B.C. Please contact me at
Thank you.

Mike Lacelle
Fri, May 23, 2014
Hi Sindy, I am a 10 year survivor of GIST stomach cancer. My kids were 7 and 9 when diagnosed and it was terrifying. Through that awful ordeal I realized that we have world class doctors and cancer care right here in Ottawa and you are in the best hands possible! Your courage is truly an inspiration to all cancer patients. I think you are an amazing person to have trained for and completed an Ironman Triathalon while battling cancer. Keep up the fight and good luck with all your future triathalons!

Laura Quirk
Sat, Apr 12, 2014
Hi Sindy,
Had a chat with a friend of yours last night, Stephane, and we connected the dots that I knew you. Many years ago I taught Chris in Grade 6 at KES. I have always wondered how things went after that move knowing it was a tough decision. Anyhow, read your blog post, made a donation and forwarded it on Facebook. I hope you meet the rest of your financial goal. Your story is truly amazing, say hi to the the boys for me.
Mrs. Quirk ;)

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Thu, Apr 10, 2014
You are a true warrior Sindy. Thank you for being you and inspiring so many with your courage, strength and optimism.

Wed, Apr 09, 2014
It was a pleasure to hear your story during the recent S.W.E.E.T. event in Ottawa, there was not a dry eye amongst the 400 women who attended the event.
You are an inspiration to all and I am grateful to have learned of your story.

Russ G
Wed, Jan 29, 2014
There are no words that can completely express what your story means to me. I am in the U.S., and have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Stage T2N1. I have been searching for any report of any person remaining as active following Whipple and chemo. I am53. I had surgery on December 30, 2013 - Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer, head of the pancreas. Up to the day of surgery, I remained extremely active: swim, cycle (no running because of old football injuries to my knees), weight training, snowboarding, wake boarding, paddle boarding. I did this up to the day of surgery. I had none of the pancreas cancer risk factors. When diagnosed, it was hard to believe because iwas in my best physical condition since college. I was terrified that my active lifestyle was over. I could not imagine a life without my existing level of activity.
I have healed quickly from surgery. Yesterday, 4 weeks from surgery, I got back in the pool and swam some freestyle. What a joy. I have been cycling indoors on my trainer. And now I hear what you have done! It means the world to me. I start chemotherapy next week, and Lord willing, I hope to continue training for a full return to activity. Thank you Sindy.

Lynn Burchard
Thu, Dec 19, 2013
You are so brave. Continue what you are doing. If it works for you, keep going. Never give up.

Wed, Oct 16, 2013
Sending hugs and prayers your way. My mother was diagnosed at 42, but unfortunately her whipple procedure wasn't successful. She passed away 7 months later leaving behind 5 children, including a severely handicapped son. I'm so happy to hear that you are on the road to recovery. Bless you for raising much needed funds and awareness. All the best.

Vonja Bardaro
Fri, Oct 11, 2013
I have a brother in law who is a 15 year survivor of pancreatic cancer. I'm so inspired by you! You go girl!!

Tue, Sep 24, 2013
Sindy, you are such an inspiration. I am an athlete myself and I wear my heart on my sleeve, so when I saw you on The Social today I was so touched by your story. Keep doing what your doing and stay strong. You are amazing :)

Tue, Sep 24, 2013
I'm from Ottawa as well and now live in Vancouver. I just saw your story on The Social and was so inspired by your amazing tenacity, strength and courage. I have had type 1 diabetes for 33 years and though it's not at all the same (pancreatic!) affliction, I really relate to what you said about feeling best when I'm exercising, with friends, sweating it out...
I wish you all the best in your continued battle and .. may the wind always be at your back :)
Thanks for everything you are doing - what a beautiful inspiration you are to millions!
Nicole Marcelin

Tue, Sep 24, 2013
Hi Sindy,I have seen you and your courageous story on TV twice now and want to say thank you for your honesty,your courage and wish you the very best in your remarkable journey.I truly admire you.I lost a dear friend to this cancer and can appreciate your fight.YOU GO GIRL!!!You are beautiful inside and out.

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