Manitoba

Winnipeg women with terminal brain cancer praise Gord Downie's response to diagnosis

​Two Winnipeg women living with terminal brain cancer say they were heartbroken when they heard The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie reveal he had the same diagnosis.

Joanne Schiewe and Catherine Ledlow are living with terminal brain cancer

Two Winnipeg women living with terminal brain cancer say they were heartbroken when they heard The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie reveal he had the same diagnosis. 2:50
Two Winnipeg women living with terminal brain cancer say they were heartbroken when they heard The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie reveal he had the same diagnosis.
Catherine Ledlow (left) and Joanne Schiewe (right) have the same diagnosis. Both are age 35, and they met at a cancer support group in Winnipeg. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

The band shared Downie's glioblastoma diagnosis on Tuesday.

Joanne Schiewe has the same diagnosis, while Catherine Ledlow's brain tumor is expected to turn into glioblastoma.

"People [are] asking, 'Well, isn't there is there a cure? Could there be a miraculous recovery? And these are all questions that I've asked. And there's not," said Schiewe. "I know what's in his head. I know what he's going through — just wanting to persevere just one last time and get on with life and see what happens."​

Both women have raised money for brain cancer research, and they said they spend as much time doing what they love with the people they love.

"Props to him that they're going on tour one last time because a few months into my diagnosis I was sick to my stomach still. I could barely walk 10 feet," said Schiewe.
Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer. He'll be touring with the band this summer.

Despite the diagnosis, Downie has announced plans to tour with The Tragically Hip this summer.

Downie was diagnosed late last year.

"He would be about six months into his diagnosis right now, and I know where I was at six months. You're tired. You're exhausted. You're drained — mentally, emotionally, physically. You just, you want to be done with the treatment but you want to live," said Schiewe. "There's really no choice that you have to continue on with wanting to survive."

Schiewe is expected to live between 12 to 18 months; Ledlow has been given five to six years.

"I have no short term memory. I have conversations with my husband, and he's like, 'Remember what I was telling you?' and I'm like, 'No. I have no memory of that,'" said Ledlow, who also has two children.

Schiewe just finished her twelfth cycle of chemotherapy, and has devoted herself to competing in races and triathlons.

Ledlow teaches musical theatre and has spent time putting on a number of productions in the city.

"There's so much more to life than just saying, 'Pity party, poor me, why me?' It could be anybody, and unfortunately it is anybody," said Schiewe.
(Right) Catherine Ledlow and Joanne Schiewe say they can relate to what The Tragically Hip singer is going through. 2:29

Both women say if Downie has a tour stop in Winnipeg this summer, they plan to go.

"This is somebody who has such beautiful lyrics, whose songs have affected my life, and I'm a huge fan," said Schiewe. "For somebody that talented to be diagnosed with something so brutal, it's devastating ... If I could just give him a big hug and just tell him how special he is to all of Canada. We have our family and friends here. He's family to Canada."

Schiewe and Ledlow said anyone who wants to help should donate to The Canadian Cancer Society. 

They said participating in the Winnipeg Police Service half marathon is a good way to contribute because they will be doubling donations for the next four years. There is also a Winnipeg Brain Tumour Walk on June 25.

with files from CBC’s Erin Brohman