VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Grace Lore really wishes she could give her friend Lise a hug.
But she can’t.
So instead, she runs 10 feet behind her every day.
The two young moms catch up and cheer each other on while training for a marathon, shouting so their voices carry over the distance between them.
Lise’s Stage 4 cancer recently spread to her heart and her brain.
“My friend Lise is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. This woman just does not slow down and has not slowed down in her commitment to life and her friends and family,” Lore says.
“Lucky me I’ve had the chance to spend time with her as we are running. It’s such a gift to have these hours with her — at a distance, but with her. Especially now, not being able to hug her, to run 10 feet behind her is a time to connect.”
The pair planned to run a marathon together in October, but that plan abruptly changed and not because of the COVID-19-related cancellation of races throughout the province.
“COVID is cancelling everything except Lise’s cancer. So, as her breath is getting shorter and her chemo is not working, she was feeling like it was now or never,” Lore explains.
“When Lise asks me to do something I just say yes. It’s pretty hard to come up with an excuse not to run with a friend who’s running through cancer in her lungs and heart and brain.”
On Friday at 8 a.m. — less than a week after Lise proposed the impromptu marathon — the friends will run the 10-kilometre loop around Victoria’s Elk and Beaver Lake more than four times.
“I don’t know how I am not going to hug that woman tomorrow after we run 42 kilometres, but I’m not. She’s immunocompromised. And so we need to find all these other ways to show our affection and support,” Lore says.
Can I tell you a little story about my friend Lise? Lise is amazing – she's an incredible friend, partner, mom, she's funny, she's positive, she's fighting stage 4 cancer in her heart and lungs and brain. SHE'S ALSO RUNNING A MARATHON ON FRIDAY 1/ pic.twitter.com/y8E9VS0P62
— Grace Lore (@GraceALore) April 29, 2020
Lore and Lise have been friends for a decade but running became part of their routine a few years ago, the first time Lise was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“Shortly after she had two surgeries her and I ran a 10K together. I had been training for a marathon and she’d been battling cancer and I barely kept up with her. She’s just a person with so much passion, so much positivity, energy and just commitment to life.”
Friday’s two-person marathon is also a fundraiser for an organization that supports people living with and dying from cancer.
“Part of the motivation for her marathon in the fall was fundraising for Callanish, an incredible organization that has really supported [Lise] on her journey,” Lore explains.
“The chance for her to connect with other young adults, other young women, and moms who are experiencing Stage 4 cancer has just been so important to her and for those of us who love her who know that she’s got this place to connect.”
An online fundraiser was launched on April 29, and the goal is to raise $25,000 for the organization.
GUYS this was Lise on Monday, pretending chemo was a “super energy infusion” for her marathon. Here’s the link to help us get to $25k for Callanish. https://t.co/bAAAoo0y7B https://t.co/lTEEndXnVA pic.twitter.com/JZR4m06zRh
— Grace Lore (@GraceALore) April 29, 2020
Lise explains what the organization has meant for her on the page.
“Since I have decided to just go ahead and run now, I will be doing my best to try to raise funds this week, for the most incredible and impactful non-profit organization I know, which has already given me so much, and provided me so much support throughout the past few years,” she writes.
“I know this has been such a hard time for so many, especially for the most vulnerable populations, for small businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as those living with chronic and terminal illness. If you would like to, and are able to support me in this run, I would so much appreciate your donations.”
In addition to donations, people are using the run as a way to show up for Lise even while social distancing makes it impossible to do so in person.
“Because of COVID and the inability for people to come visit Lise or for Lise to go visit them, there’s this big gap for Lise in terms of connecting with people she loves,” Lore says.
“So folks have been making signs and sending signs and putting together videos. This is about Lise tackling a marathon tomorrow. It’s also about fundraising for this organization. But in the midst of it, there’s going to be so many people finding other ways to connect with her and send her love and send her support over the course of the run.”
Lore hopes their friendship, Lise’s fierceness in the face of cancer, and this fundraiser will inspire people to imagine creative ways to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope anybody who’s who is seeing this will think of all the ways they can find to reach out to the people they care about until we can hug everybody.”