Sandy Lightfoot and her husband Fred celebrated a very auspicious occasion on Friday morning with a commemorative walk from Hosmer to Fernie.
On March 28, 1999 Sandy Lightfoot was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. She received the heartbreaking diagnosis just one day after her birthday and knew she was in for the fight of her life.
“It was stage four and I had massive pulmonary embolisms as well and basically, there’s stage four and then there isn’t a stage five and it was very, very bad,” Lightfoot recalled. However, after undergoing all the required surgeries and chemotherapy, Lightfoot started to recover, against all the odds.
Now, 21 years later, Lightfoot is thankfully still in remission from late stage ovarian cancer and celebrated the occasion the same way she has for the past 20 years, by walking.
“A friend of mine knocked on the door one day after I finished treatment and she said, ‘come on, let’s go for a walk’,” Lightfoot remembered. “So we started the walks then and then Fred joined us too and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Every year for the past 20 years, Lightfoot and her husband walk from Hosmer to Fernie on March 27 to celebrate her birthday and her win in the fight against cancer.
“My friend was the one that suggested it when we started to walk with her,” Lightfoot said. “We did the walk from Hosmer to Fernie which is eight miles, once a year and it was always on my birthday because my birthday is [March 27] and I actually was diagnosed on March 28 so we just combined the two and call it the cancer-versary and birthday walk.”
Although the couple celebrates being cancer free every year with an eight mile walk, they also walk four miles every single day as a way to stay fit, happy and active. Since they are so often seen walking out and about, Lightfoot said the community recognizes and supports them whenever they see them.
“People on the highway, because we walk every day, they know us,” Lightfoot noted. “We have truckers waving to us and beeping their horns and friends that know who we are. A lot of people know who we are and we don’t even know who they are. We’ll say, ‘there’s the maroon car, she’s waving again’ but we don’t know who they actually are.”
Over the years, they’ve had some friends and community members join them on their walks but this year, Sandy and Fred made the trek alone, Sandy in her walking shoes and Fred following closely on his bicycle. The couple left their home in Hosmer at around 7:30 a.m. and planned to arrive in Fernie at around 9:30 to 9:45 a.m. According to Lightfoot, she can usually do about four miles in an hour.
“It’s something that my husband and I do together and we always feel good that we do it. It’s something to look forward to every year,” Lightfoot said of the commemorative walk. “We do celebrate it because you just never know. We’re lucky because all the other people who were diagnosed when I was, they’re all gone and they’ve been gone for many years now so I just feel very fortunate indeed.”