“I am so glad I live in a community with such a great group of medical professionals who are on my side. So to them, and to the whole #HeatherStrong community, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.” – Heather Little
March 27, 2023:
No one would ever think that the pain in their shoulder must be cancer. But that’s how Heather Little found out she was facing both colon and liver cancer during the height of the pandemic in a province she’d recently moved too.
Cancer seemed far away for Heather. A competitive soccer player turned Ironman who thought that she was healthy. Heather describes herself as a positive, kind, compassionate, caring person. You quickly realize it’s true after just a few minutes talking to her.
The diagnosis brought her back to Owen Sound where she could be close to family and the specialists in Toronto. It also meant she could regularly enjoy her mom’s turkey dinner which she says “fills my belly and my soul!”
Years later Heather continues to live with cancer. At the age of 43 she’s had numerous surgeries, countless rounds of chemo and a million appointments. She plays more golf, started a blog (CLICK HERE! to read it) and always tries to find the light and love in everyday – even when it’s hard. She says the process has taught her patience.
While sometimes things happen quickly (like an emergency surgery) they often require patience. Heather says she reminds herself “that I’m ok to wait, because they are taking time with another patient who also needs them, and when it’s my turn, I know they will take the time and care with me.”
It’s taken an entire #HeatherStrong community to get to this point. It’s a hashtag started by a coworker that’s become a rallying point for Heather and those around her: family, friends, colleagues, doctors, surgeons, nurses and so many more people met along the way.
Throughout it all she’s tried to remain positive and focus on what she can control. Whether that’s eating right, going on walks, or just getting dressed in new clothes every morning (even if sometimes it’s just new pajamas).
There’s another thing that has given Heather purpose and a way to give back – her philanthropy. She has raised nearly $100,000 split between the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Owen Sound Oncology Department. She says that “giving back to my community is something that brings me joy and fills my cup.” At times it feels like “one of the only ways I can truly say thank you to Dr. Sandhu and all the staff in the unit. Helping them to be able to help others.”
She is nearing her goal of $50,000 raised for Owen Sound which would be recognized with a plaque in the Oncology department. When asked what that would mean Heather said “I would just love for people to know about the beautiful people who donated to help get me to that goal. The plaque will live on and I feel as though I would just love to know the legacy is there.”
Heather has driven these results by telling her story, selling #HeatherStrong merchandise, and organizing events for friends and family. She has also been a part of the massively successful Radio for Oncology the past two years. Her advice for anyone thinking about fundraising is to “start by talking to the foundation!”
We want to thank Heather and the entire #HeatherStrong community for their efforts to support local cancer care.