Every once in a while, there is a movement that brings people together — a movement to inspire hope for the future.
When Sindy Hooper was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2013, a movement was born. While Sindy faced an uncertain future, she forged ahead, determined to beat the odds. Her treatment included Whipple surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. She was able to withstand chemo and radiation treatments so well that she continued training for Ironman Canada.
Sindy also spearheaded a team, known as Marathoners Gone Viral, to raise money for pancreatic cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital. The team included 100 participants and raised over $100,000 as a part of the fundraising component of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (TORW) in May 2013.
It was that year that Alex Stewart first met Sindy. He was just out of university and working at a specialized training centre for athletes, where Sindy was training for her Ironman. Alex had heard Sindy’s story, and explained he was considering a triathlon, but Sindy convinced him to try a half-Ironman first — he also joined Marathoners Gone Viral. Alex and Sindy have been friends and have trained together ever since. In fact, Alex now calls her his triathlon mom. “Watching her drive and dedication over the years is inspiring, but also her mindset has changed over the years. She was super competitive, well she’s still super competitive, but it’s also fun. It’s also about loving life and living life to the fullest,” Alex explains.
In an effort to welcome runners of all levels, the MEMC (Making Every Moment Count) Team was born. The team name came from a conversation between Sindy and her dear friend, Janet McKeage, at Janet’s dining room table. The friends were looking to inspire people and based on that conversation, the new name was adopted. “Sindy teaches me every day to live like that team name. She inspires me and so many others. She created this huge running team and each year we give back to research. We even have our own MEMC running gear. I remember running down a street in Maui, Hawaii years ago and there was someone running towards me with one of our shirts on and I thought, wow this isn’t just in Ottawa,” says Janet.
In the late summer of 2022, Sindy and her family received devastating news — the cancer was back. “It was the situation we feared for the last nine years and nine months. With no curative surgery or treatment, no immunotherapy or clinical trial, I began palliative chemotherapy in October and then some radiation. I’m hoping for a year. I’m hoping for a miracle,” says Sindy.
With news that Sindy’s cancer had spread, the MEMC movement began to surge once again. Within the first few weeks of the team being registered for TORW, it grew to 122 and counting.
“I’m hoping for a year. I’m hoping for a miracle.”— Sindy Hooper
This year will mark the ninth year for the MEMC team and to date they’ve raised $274,000. Sindy’s goal this year is to top the $300,000 mark. Acknowledging there are difficult days as she endures chemo and radiation, it’s the groundswell of support that continues to push her through, along with the support of her husband, Jon, and her two sons. “I’m completely blown away by the support,” says Sindy.
Sindy continues to live each day with gratitude and to make every moment count — while still giving back to inspire hope, raise awareness, and generate more funds for cancer research. It’s a movement that will certainly be a part of her legacy.
Listen to Sindy Hooper’s story in her own words during a guest appearance in 2020 on Pulse: The Ottawa Hospital Foundation Podcast.