Hi, My Name Is Gillian!

Hello! Welcome to my blog!
Before you get into my blog posts, I wanted to introduce myself, share my story and explain why I decided to start this blog. First off the basics, I was born in London, Ontario Canada to parents who were avid runners. Therefore running and the athlete lifestyle was very natural for me. I spent countless hours at track practices, cross country races and road races in the stroller. I also have a little brother who, would not agree with this, is way cuter then me.

My dad, brother and I. Summer 1996

I studied outdoor recreation, parks and tourism, with a bachelors of education specializing in leadership at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Lakehead graduate 2014!

In 2014, I moved across the country to Prince George, British Columbia with my husband, Tory. We live with our cat, Edwin, and our dog, Kona (yes he is named after Kona bikes). I now teach grade 4 in Prince George, and I love my job!

My family! 2017

I have loved being active for my whole life. From elementary cross country to competitive synchronized swimming, I have participated in a wide range of athletic activities for fun and for high performance. I just love to be active, have fun, and work hard towards goals!

Competing in Synchronized swimming duet, with my friend Lisa.

However, when I found triathlon I was able to combine my experience in running and swimming into a whole new challenge. I fell in love with triathlon in 2011 when I decided to give it a “tri”, yes pun intended.  Because one difficult athletic challenge just isn’t enough for one race, right?

Getting ready to take on my first Triathlon. Summer 2011

Because of my swimming and running experience I started with the Olympic distance race, most people start with a shorter, try-a-tri or sprint distance. The Olympic distance is a 1.5 km swim, 40km bike and a 10km run. I really was excited for the challenge of learning more about cycling, and putting these three disciplines together. I ended up having the time of my life, and winning 2nd in the age group! And the rest was history, I was HOOKED!

Winning second place in first triathlon. 2011

I then got right into training hard, learning a lot, and working my way up to the half Ironman distance triathlon (1.8km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run). After competing in my first Half Ironman triathlon in Muncie Indiana in 2014, I fell in love with triathlon all over again! Dispite fracturing my elbow at the 30km mark of the bike (a story for another time), I still managed to finish the race and wanted to come back for more! Yes, I know, I am crazy, however I prefer determined, or stubborn.

Icing my broken elbow post first half Ironman triathlon. 2014

I then proceeded to invest more of myself into training, learning more about training methods and nutrition.  I was loving the Half Ironman distance and did a couple more races in Washington and Calgary.  I even came within minutes of qualifying to compete for Canada in the World Half Ironman Championships in 2015!  I was on a roll!  Triathlon had become a driving force in my life.  And I loved it!

So proud of my race, almost qualifying for worlds. 2015

Then at the end of 2017 my life was turned upside down. I had started to feel bloated in my stomach. I went in for some tests and the doctors discovered that I had a large mass growing on my right ovary. I was in shock, and was not sure how to feel at first. I ended up going in for surgery to have the ovary and the tumour removed in February 2018. It was so terrifying, however I was so proud of how I handled it with such bravery. The tumour ended up being non-cancerous. Therefore I went through the 6 weeks of bed rest recovery, spent months building back by strength and fitness, and then resumed training as usual.

In hospital post surgery number one. February 2018

getting back to training after abdominal surgery was really hard. Not only did I have to train hard, i have to do it with a body that had been through a lot of trauma. I spent all winter focusing on flexibility, strength and conditioning in order to prepare for my strenuous training schedule in the spring. I put in all the work to tackle the MBO Vancouver Half Marathon in May 2019 and the Whistler 70.3 Half Ironman in July 2019. After putting in the work i kept surprising myself with what I was capable of. My training times were on track to try and go for a personal best in the half marathon, under 1:30. After everything I had been through I was just excited to be racing again, not to mention the potential of getting a PB! The first 10km of the race my pacing was perfect to be able to run a 1:30, and I was feeling good! But then everything went downhill, I started felling really sick around 12km and had to slowly pull back and slow myself down. I struggled through the second half of the race. I finished in 1:33, still an amazing time, but not the race that I had trained for, and not what I knew I could accomplish. However, after where I was the year previous, I took it!

Post BMO half marathon. May 2019

For days after the race I felt so sick, it did not make sense. I went in for some more tests, and my doctors found that I had another mass growing on my left and remaining ovary. I was beside myself, so angry. I had just been through this. Why again? Why me? I was feeling angry, cheated and I just wanted to scream and cry, so I did. I had to again for the second year in a row drop out of the Half Ironman in Whistler. I was beyond devastated. I went in for surgery in June 2019, and on the spot, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the tumour, my remaining ovary, uterus, cervix and appendix needed to be taken out. It was shocking news to wake up to.

Post surgery number two. June 2019

I then proceeded to undergo chemotherapy treatment to ensure that all non visible cells were killed and the risk of regrowth was squashed.

Post chemotherapy treatment number 4. October 2019

so enjoy my blog as I conquer my cancer journey and transition back into my post cancer life. I will tackle topics related to cancer, treatment, mental health, training, triathlon and so much more. I hope to inspire others to know that they are stronger then they think.

Feeling strong post surgery number 1 recovery and loving training! Hope to get back to this soon. Showing off my scar. January 2019

Published by tri_Gill

I am a triathlete navigating being a teacher and cancer apatient and looking to inspire others.

3 thoughts on “Hi, My Name Is Gillian!

  1. God bless you Gillian. You’re a real inspiration to anyone, especially if they really know you and are familiar with what you are going through. You are handling your situation with such dignity and class..


  2. Heard your CBC interview this morning. Your spirit and determination are an inspiration and reality check to us who are moaning about minor ills and aches and inconveniences at this time. God bless and grant you continued strength. Love, Gerry,Teresa and Bella Jackson


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