Inspire Health is one of those places you don’t hear about until you or someone close to you needs it.
That’s the sentiment Anita Armstrong experienced when a friend of a friend benefitted from the services of the Oak Bay-based clinic. Inspire Health supports cancer patients and their caretakers with myriad programs.
In November of 2018 Armstrong recognized something was wrong when she went to the doctor and took up their suggestion she visit the emergency room. She got a CT scan that revealed a mass on her right ovary.
By the time she had it surgically removed a month later it was 15 pounds.
Once it was diagnosed as cancer, she began using the Inspire Health services.
“It’s one of those places, right there on Oak Bay Avenue, but you don’t realize it until you or someone you know gets cancer and uses their services,” said Armstrong, now 43.
On Saturday, Armstrong and a group of family and friends will do the fourth annual Inspire Health Rain Walk starting at Glenlyon Norfolk School. The five-kilometre walk around Fairfield and Oak Bay is a fundraiser, and friendraiser, for Inspire Health.
|Map My Run Route/Screenshot|
Armstrong, who has made it a year without a cancer diagnosis, didn’t think she’d finish the five-kilometre walk last year as she did the walk after one of the brutal chemotherapy sessions.
“Before I had surgery I looked like I was pregnant with twins,” said Armstrong, who was nothing of the sort. “When we got the CT scan diagnosis it was a 50-50 chance that it was either a benign mass or cancerous.”
Until a biopsy was done, the medical team wouldn’t know if it was stage 1 or 4.
“It took another month throughout Christmas time and somehow, it was the most aggressive kind, a massive tumour that was miraculously still in stage 1,” Armstrong said.
It’s been a year since Armstrong last had chemotherapy. During that time she relied heavily on Inspire Health’s services, everything from the counselling services to the nutrition and cooking classes, the Monday meditation classes, and the yoga classes.
“When you’re doing chemo and radiation it’s awful, you feel like you’re being poisoned from the inside,” Armstrong said. “I made a motto, never miss a Monday. It is a really great place to go. Everyone understood what you’re going through, everyone there is calm and it’s a place to just be.”
Inspire Health also supports caretakers and did so for Armstrong’s husband.
The yoga classes helped Armstrong, a gym regular, get back to her daily workouts.
Her group Team Teal – their motto is “Teal we find a cure” – could be 30 strong, which is a good chunk of the 200-plus participants.
Inspire Health clinical director Rachel Mark helped start the Rain Walk in Victoria four years ago and has seen it grow from 75 to 205 walkers last year.
“There’s no registration fee this year,” Mark said. “On top of raising money, it’s about building awareness.”
Awareness for services such as the cooking class, which was key when chemotherapy drastically altered her palette and her appetite, Armstrong said.
“Just come and walk, show your support, and know this organization is there for your friends, family, colleagues when they need it,” Armstrong said. “It’s amazing how quickly it can happen that you’ll know someone using Inspire Health.”
The Rain Walk starts at the Pemberton GNS campus and heads along Richardson down to Fairfield, Richmond and Beach Drive before returning back to the school.
Register for the walk at inspirehealth.ca.