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Winning the Fight

Daffodil Day on April 27 is a special day to reflect, help and show support for those living with cancer

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It was, he admits, one of the most trying times of his life.

"It's funny how you don't remember. Maybe you just put these things behind you or something."

He shows off a picture hanging in the fire hall from that time.

Two dozen or so firefighters are grinning into the camera. All are bald, smiling. It's their act of solidarity for a stricken brother.

Sure, the details of the cancer fight may be hazy now, but it's things like that Keith will never forget.

Leslie's story

Leslie Weir's hair is just starting to grow back. The brown bristles cover her whole head uniformly.

It may look like she's in the thick of cancer treatment but Leslie is fighting fit — physically, at least. She passed her ten-year milestone of brain cancer last year.

"It's a thing," she says, of the decade marker. "It's a good thing."

The new haircut is courtesy of the Balding For Dollars cancer fundraiser recently. The yellow daffodil pin on her chest, the bracelets on her wrist, the light pink socks that declare "Cancer Sucks" are all badges of her battle. They tell the world — I'm a "Survivor," and proud of it.

In a calm matter-of-fact voice, pausing to collect her thoughts, Leslie recounts her story.

She was 35-years-old, a long-standing groomer on Blackcomb Mountain. Whistler had been her home for about ten years.

At a work meeting in 2001 near the end of the season Leslie had a grand mal seizure.

She was taken to the clinic. The seizure passed and she didn't think much of it — partying too hard, working long, midnight hours. Perhaps her body was just worn-out.

But she had to follow-up with a specialist in the city.

"I was so sure it was nothing I didn't ask a friend to come down or anything," she says. "And yeah, I found out in a very sad way."

Alone.

She learned she had a tumour in her brain the size of a small lemon. She would need a seven-hour surgery just to get it out. And only then would she learn if it was cancerous.

It was.

She indicates the front, left side of her head.

"The worst thing is memory," she says.

She can remember who her best friend was when she was five-years-old, but short-term memory is a challenge.

"I have to write things down," she says.

And so when she found a lump five years later in her breast, she was in disbelief that it could be cancerous — to beat brain cancer only then to battle anew with breast cancer?

"I left it too long," she says. "I was so: 'I don't have another cancer.'"

She holds up her left arm, swollen down to her fingertips. The cancer had spread from her breast to her lymph nodes and with the lymph nodes now gone; the arm doesn't drain as well.