This past year Andrew Corkum, an 18 year survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and his wife Liz set out with a goal to bring the biggest team TNT has seen in Atlantic Canada to the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and raise $100,000 for the LLSC. Also marking 5 years in Atlantic Canada they set out to bring back as many TNT alumni as they could to be part of Andy’s Reunion Team.
What was it like having a team rally around and support you?
Andy: It was amazing to see so many people come together for a common goal of fundraising $100,000 to be part of a research portfolio. People who haven’t been around in a number of years were joining. Almost everyone was able to exceed their fundraising commitment by quite a bit. It was very encouraging to see everyone come out and be part of the team and it was greatly appreciated.
What does that mean to you as a family, to have that extra support?
Liz: It felt great to have so many people focused on the cause and on supporting patients and their families. Especially where we’ve been through it before and didn’t have that support, the emotional part of it really helped make a difference.
Andy: It was heartwarming and very inspirational to see that people were not only supporting me but supporting other patients and the LLSC.
What was it like to share the race day experience together?
Andy: It was great to run with Liz, it felt really good to have her there when I needed her. Just like 18 years ago when I needed her she was there, and this year when I ran in San Diego, when I was at 32km and I needed her she was there too.
Liz: I’ve run and met survivors when I’ve run with TNT but I’ve never run a whole marathon with a survivor before. So that was pretty cool, very inspiring.
Your connection to the LLSC runs deep, what keeps bringing you back?
Andy: Well I’ve always said that as long as I’m able to run or walk, I will probably be doing an event for TNT, once a year if not twice a year plus the Light The Night Walk. Obviously it’s a cause very dear to me, and I feel I have to give back to the society. Hopefully other patients will have the same outcome that I had, it’s a long ways off but hopefully we’ll get to that point. It’s really nice to have had the opportunity to meet many individuals running from other regions across Canada.
What would you tell them someone who hasn’t done a race with TNT? Particularly a survivor?
Andy: It’s an experience that you won’t regret. It’s a tough battle to fight cancer, it’s a tough battle to train for a half marathon or a full marathon or even a 5k or 10k. Once you become a survivor of cancer, you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle and running is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Once you start running your diet changes, your whole outlook on life changes so it’s a very positive experience to go through. I think it does help with the recovery process too. It’s one thing to be a survivor or a 5 year survivor, but after 5 years you still constantly think about what you went through. Even after 18 years you still think about it… But this definitely gives you that bit of positive encouragement that you’re helping someone else. So we like to take those opportunities and progress with them.
Andy: I think Calgary is in May and we have Light The Night Walk this fall. It feels amazing to say that we’re coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary this summer. There were times that I didn’t think I was going to be able to say that or do that, or watch my children grow up and graduate from high school.
Andy and Elizabeth will continue to be some of the Atlantic Region’s most dedicated and passionate volunteers and participants. We can’t wait to see what they do next.