An Ottawa woman battling a dire cancer diagnosis is flying to B.C. on Sunday to finish the task she started pre-diagnosis —compete in an Ironman triathlon.
Sindy Hooper was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January, and has had half of her pancreas, half of her stomach and her gallbladder removed. Statistics give her a ten per cent chance of living five more years.
The 50-year-old Hooper said she’s been an athlete all her life and was blindsided by the news.
"I couldn't believe it. I was shocked," she said.
"I thought, how is this possible? I'm in the best shape of my life… It was just a huge blow."
Considering the recent surgery and prognosis, friends Hooper has been training with said they’re amazed with how well she is doing.
'She actually takes less rest now than she used to.' —Joe Haimowitz, friend
"It's just inspiring, just seeing the desire to be out there," said Sharon Kozicki.
"I don't know how she does it. She actually takes less rest now than she used to," said Joe Haimowitz.
Could be first to race while undergoing chemo
The mother of two had competed in the race — which consists of a four-kilometer swim, and 180-kilometre bike ride and a full marathon — last year and had signed up to do it again this fall.
Hooper said last year she finished in 11 hours and 38 minutes. Her goal in Whistler next weekend is to finish before the cut-off time of 17 hours, possibly becoming the first person to ever try to race an Ironman while undergoing chemotherapy.
When she asked her doctor if she could do it again while undergoing chemotherapy, she said he called her crazy.
"He was just looking at me in disbelief, just shaking his head," she said.
"He actually said ‘you know Sindy, I don't understand why a person that's completely healthy would want to do this. I'm not sure how you're going to be able to do it!’"
After the Ironman in Whistler, Hooper has three more races lined up. She says the ambitious schedule just backs up the message she said she wants to send to other people: "I think we're all capable of more than we even believe in ourselves."