The story of how Cupids came to be… 

Cupids Against Cancer is an annual event that began nearly ten years ago as a way to honour the life of Katy McDonald. There are many reasons we choose to support the great initiatives of the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation, not the least of which is its special link to Katy.

Katy’s Story

In the fall of 2002, Katy was diagnosed with high-grade undifferentiated sarcoma, an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer. She began a course of chemotherapy, which she completed in the spring of 2003. The test results looked good. Over the summer Katy began suffering from migraine-like headaches and in late September 2003, Katy was told that her cancer had returned in the form of a brain tumour. She was scheduled for a biopsy on the first Tuesday of October. The Monday morning before the scheduled biopsy, she woke up with slurred speech, slack facial muscles and a weakened right side. It was like she had had a stroke.

Doctors performed emergency brain surgery and were able to remove a large tumour. Unfortunately, they also found another tumour that they couldn’t remove. The plan was to have radiation coupled with aggressive chemo and a stem cell transplant. Not too long into the planned treatment, Katy suffered a massive infection and fell into a coma. Three weeks later Katy came out of the coma and managed to stay with us another few months. Katy lost her battle with cancer on February 3, 2004 at 17 years of age.

Creating Cupids

Katy’s friends had put on a few cancer benefits that fall and winter. We even managed to get Katy to one of them held at the 360 on Queen Street West. Her Uncle Ray and Aunt April thought we could organize a cancer benefit as well and started planning the event in late 2003. Katy was an active participant in the organizing. When Katy left us on February 3, we didn’t know whether to continue or not, but with the warm support of friends and family we held our first Cupids Against Cancer benefit event on Feb 13, 2004.

As a family we were touched by many wonderful organizations during Katy’s illness. With each event we have been able to give back to some of those charities. Each year the beneficiaries have changed with one group remaining a constant… the On The Tip Of The Toes Foundation.

Through Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital, Katy was asked to participate in a wilderness adventure organized by the On the Tip Of Toes Foundation. In March 2003, ten teenagers living with cancer (five from Ontario and five from Quebec) skidooed across James Bay from Moose Factory Ontario to Waskaganesh, Quebec and back. The teens were accompanied by a medical team and by wilderness guides from both Tip of Toes and the Cree Indian Nation. That adventure into Canada’s wilderness empowered those teenagers by giving them a challenge and the experience of a lifetime.

Here is what Katy had to say after her trip:

“I feel as if I can conquer anything. I was able to spend four days in minus 30 and 40 degree weather and traveled nearly 400km on skidoo in the middle of nowhere! Who knows what else I could do?”

This experience helped Katy redefine her limits, realizing that, no matter what challenges life threw at her, she possessed the inner strength to tackle them head-on. With your continued support, more teens living with cancer will have the chance to become adventurers like Katy – and will reclaim a bit of themselves in the process.

You can learn about current trips like the one Katy took by visiting the Blog at On The Tips of the Toes website: