There are days when Krista Pask thinks about giving up.
At 34, she’s physically drained, mentally exhausted, and she’s undergone more chemotherapy over the years than a human body should ever endure.
“At one point I said to my doctor, ‘I’m done,’” said the Sarnia woman, who survived a rare form of cancer when she was a SCITS high school student, only to be diagnosed 17 years later with stage three, triple-negative breast cancer. It’s now in stage four and considered ‘incurable’ after spreading to her lungs.
“I think I shocked him,” she said.
But the bad days don’t last. Pask, surrounded by a team of family and friends fighting with her, says she’s got too much to lose to give up now.
“No one is giving up on me. No one is saying, ‘Well, that’s all we can do,’” she said. “Not the doctors, not anyone. So I can’t give up on myself.”
Since the diagnosis last summer, Pask has made it her mission to spread awareness about the disease, and give others hope they can face it, head on.
Her blog, That Girl’s Got Moxie — which means ‘a force of character, determination or nerve’ — is updated regularly as she writes about her latest news, treatments, triumphs and challenges.
That includes live Q&A sessions on social media, where she gives a raw glimpse of life with cancer, from blood transfusions and hair loss, to the impact on her family, who have been her rock through it all. While she doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the disease, she doesn’t let it consume her, either.
“Sure, I could dwell on the ‘why me again,’ but why waste my time asking questions I’ll never get answers to?” she said. “My journey hasn’t been easy thus far, and from here on out, it might not get any easier, but I am determined to find and focus on the positives of each day, not the negatives.”
She’s sharing her story at this year’s Taking Steps Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 20, where her team, aptly named “She’s got Moxie” will join participants from across Sarnia-Lambton for the second annual event.
Paula McKinlay, the area’s community fundraising specialist for the Canadian Cancer Society, said choosing Pask as this year’s Face of Hope, was a no-brainer.
“As a human and as a mom, I started watching her videos and reading her blog, and I was so inspired,” McKinlay said of Pask, who was twice the Face of Hope for Relay for Life in the past, and helped on the committee for years.
“She has changed my outlook on life. You’ve got to live life to the fullest, and she’s definitely doing that.”
Last year’s event raised $12,000 and she’s aiming for $15,000 this year. Participants can fundraise, or register ($40 for adults, $20 for kids) for the event, which includes medals, T-shirts and lunch.
Pask credits McKinlay’s tireless work for the community’s ongoing generosity.
“That woman is on a rampage to find a cure for cancer,” she said. “She is the real star.”
Pask will start her next round of chemo in the days leading up to the event. Her last scan showed no growth or spread of the cancer.
“So far, I’m considering myself blessed that it’s contained in my lung,” she said. “And if we can keep it at bay, they’ll see if I’m a candidate for a trial coming to London (from Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital) in January.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Taking Steps Against Breast Cancer Walk/Run (1K, 5K, 10K)
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 20, 12 noon
WHERE: Seaway Kiwanis Pavilion, Canatara Park
DETAILS: Registration begins 10:30 a.m.; warm-up and speakers begin at 11:45; Walk at noon