Much like her father, Sandra Johannson doesn’t start anything she can’t finish.
The Lacombe County woman is determined to finish her first full marathon in March to help raise money for cancer, a disease that took her father’s life in the summer.
“My dad never started anything that he didn’t finish,” Johannson said of her father, Robert Baskill. “I’m very much the same way. I don’t care if I have to crawl over that line, I will do it.”
Baskill was seemingly healthy but an onset of fatigue and an inability to keep food down lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Signs of mesothelioma may not appear for numerous years, even numerous decades, and Johannson said they believe her father was exposed to asbestos in his 20s.
The disease aggressively attacked the area around his lungs and he died on June 27, three weeks after his diagnosis. Baskill had turned 71 just 10 days before.
After his death, Johannson and her three sisters were inspired to raise money to help others in similar situations.
They couldn’t find a fundraising event specifically for mesothelioma, so Johannson and her oldest sister, Joan Gauthier, registered to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. Johannson said the blood cancers are the closest thing to the form of the disease that killed her father.
The two signed up for the society’s Team in Training in November and will join more than 20 Calgarians to run the Maratona di Roma on March 19 — a full 42 km marathon in Rome, Italy.
Johannson completed her first five km race in 2007 and immediately graduated to running 10 km races. She ran her first half marathon in Lacombe last year and has since completed two more 21 km races.
While crossing the finish line is a must in Rome, Johannson is just as determined to raise the mandatory $14,000 in order to compete.
“That’s our main goal,” she said. “We just want to help anyone that we can. I’d hate for anyone to go through this that needs help, and the helps not there.”
Just under $1,000 was raised towards this goal at a pancake breakfast that Johannson hosted in Lacombe last weekend. The sisters have also organized a MuchMusic video dance party at the Lacombe Memorial Centre in February to help raise money.
Online donations can also be made at http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?SID=2832480&Lang=en-CA.