This year’s Victoria Goddess Run in Langford on June 4 will be an emotional yet triumphant milestone for Julie Power.
An avid runner who completed various half marathons since she got serious about the sport in 2009, Power is training for the five-kilometre portion of the event. While that’s less than a quarter of her usual distance, it’ll mark the first time she has raced since being diagnosed with leukemia in April 2015.
“I recently completed 10 months of treatment and have been in remission for 14 months,” explained the 44-year-old Saanich resident.
Power took part in the 2013 and 2014 Goddess Run as part of the Sole Sisters team, which counts numerous West Shore runners among the roughly 200 women in the club.
In a cruel twist of irony, Power was diagnosed with cancer just three weeks after she had completed a half marathon. Her white blood cell count was dangerously low, virtually non existent at 0.1. “It should be between 4 and 10 for someone in average health,” she explained, adding that she had no hemoglobin or platelets at the time. “It was literally life or death, because I had no ability to fight infections. Fortunately I’m super passionate about fitness, which is one of the reasons I survived.”
Power is anxious to share two messages of paramount importance regarding what she went through.
“It’s so important for women to listen to their bodies. Getting through that half marathon weeks before I was diagnosed may have seemed like a badge of courage at the time, but in fact it could have killed me,” she said. “Women seem to ignore warning signs. If something doesn’t seem right, you need to get it checked out right away. Waiting will not get you the help you need.”
The other lesson Power learned the hard way was the importance of being prepared to deal with the dire financial straits that often accompany serious illness. Although well-versed in the insurance business with 12 years’ experience and having just earned her investment and insurance licence before the cancer took hold, Power never got around to purchasing income insurance.
“There I was, suddenly off work for two years, a single parent with two children trying to maintain a house in Victoria and having to rent an apartment in Vancouver during my treatment,” she said. “I’m so passionate about that now after what I’ve been through. I would stand on a soapbox to tell people how important income insurance protection is.”
Power can’t wait to run again, and couldn’t be happier that proceeds from this year’s Goddess Run will go to the BC Cancer Foundation. “I’m doing it because I can,” she said. “There’s an enormous sense of celebration, especially because I’m running with my daughter, Jordyn. She’s new to running and it’s her very first (five-kilometre race), made even more special because of what she’s been through with me.”
More than 11,000 women have taken part in the first five Goddess Run events, and raised more than $170,000 for charity. For more information, jog over to goddessrun.ca.