Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit June 20, 2017 - 2:30 pm

Nunavut family gives back to hospital with race fundraiser

"When you meet the doctors, they know about Nunavut”

BETH BROWN
The Nleya family are hosting a charity run at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, June 25, to raise money for muscle and bone cancer research. The family is pictured here celebrating young Nicholas Nleya’s first birthday as his father, Ben Nleya, sitting, recovers post-surgery for Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. Kundai Nleya is pictures to the left and Tina Nleya in centre. (PHOTO COURTESY T. NLEYA)
The Nleya family are hosting a charity run at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, June 25, to raise money for muscle and bone cancer research. The family is pictured here celebrating young Nicholas Nleya’s first birthday as his father, Ben Nleya, sitting, recovers post-surgery for Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. Kundai Nleya is pictures to the left and Tina Nleya in centre. (PHOTO COURTESY T. NLEYA)

Organized half-marathons aren’t very common in the Arctic.

Yet, runners in Iqaluit are gearing up for a summer solstice run at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, June 25, to support muscle and bone cancer research. 

Organized by a local family as a fundraiser, there will be races for all skill levels including a 10-kilometre wishbone race, five-km funny bone race, one-km and two-km jiggle bone races and a 21-km crazy bone half-marathon—with races with bone-related names because they will raise money for muscle and bone cancer research.

The event mirrors an annual run held in Ottawa, called Rattle Me Bones, which supports research at the Ottawa General Hospital. All money raised from pledges at the Iqaluit solstice run will go towards musculo-skeletal and bone cancer research done at the hospital.

“At the Ottawa General Hospital, they look after a lot of patients from Iqaluit. They are very familiar with Nunavut,” said Iqaluit resident Tina Nleya.

She organized the run as a way to give back to the hospital which is known for treating northern clients.

Nleya gained that knowledge first-hand: A year ago, her husband Ben Nleya was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma and received treatment at the Ottawa General. The rare form of cancer, which is usually found in children, leads to tumors in your skeletal muscles.

“When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it is something that is very daunting,” Tina said. This is true no matter where you live but in the North, limited access to healthcare makes a battle with cancer even more difficult, she added.

“For me, it’s a hospital that understands the North and its challenges. When you meet the doctors, they know about Nunavut,” said Tina, who has lived in Iqaluit with her family for six years.

She said the hospital tries to schedule appointments together to avoid frequent flights to and from the North.

But sometimes frequent visits are unavoidable for cancer patients who require chemotherapy and could be away for months at a time—or must fly back and forth every few weeks, despite being weak from treatment.

Even routine checkups, such as changing bandages and dressings, are harder for northern patients. If you live in Ottawa, a nurse will visit your home to drain and change dressings, Tina said, but that service isn’t offered in Iqaluit.

And cancer patients often have to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses not covered by government per diems. Her family stayed in an Ottawa hotel for six weeks while Ben underwent a series of surgeries and radiation treatments. He is currently cancer-free.

While the Iqaluit charity run won’t eliminate the challenges Nunavut cancer patients face, it will help bolster research that could improve treatment for future patients.

“For us as a community, it is a way of saying ‘thank you for understanding our own medical challenges,’” said Tina. 

Tina has been training for the half marathon which will take runners from the Sylvia Grinnell pavilion to the end of Federal Rd., then to the end of the airstrip and back to the park. The 10-km run will go past the dump to the end of the causeway.

For people looking to shake their bones for the cause, pledge packages are available from Tina Nleya and tax receipts will be given to anyone who makes a donation.

Runners without pledges must pay a registration fee of $50 to cover race expenses. 

The run is set to start at 2 p.m. June 25. Organizers will host a barbecue during the event—and people are asked to bring cash to buy food.

For more information, or for race registration, you can contact Tine Nleya at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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