Cancer survivor faced ordeal one day at a time

Meet Christine Eisenzopf, cancer survivor.
As strong as those words are, their simplicity doesn’t do justice to the journey this 53-year-old Fort Frances woman has made from her doctor’s office in 1994 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer to the gravel road around Pither’s Point at last Friday’s “Relay for Life”–making the lap as a proud survivor.
But Eisenzopf, like her fellow cancer survivors, prefers not to dwell on the big picture.
“It was very difficult. You have to deal with it one day at a time, one step at a time,” a glowing Eisenzopf said minutes after finishing the survivors’ lap to kick off the all-night fundraiser.
“Once you get over the shock of it, you say, ‘OK, let’s deal with this.’”
After undergoing surgery in March, 1994, she was technically free of the cancer but wanted to better her chances and decided to take chemotherapy sessions.
“The fact was I had some lymph nodes that had some positive cancer cells,” said Eisenzopf. “It was decided the best course was to treat it very aggressively.”
She made countless trips from here to Thunder Bay for six months and then twice to Ottawa for super-chemotherapy. That battle took close to a year but all the while her family–husband, Joe, and daughters, Sandra and Sherry–was her major source of support that got her through the trying times.
“The family and having really good friends helped tremendously,” she stressed.
The one thing her daughter, Sandra, had to deal with was being on the other end of the support system for the woman who had raised her.
“I was there for her when she first found out as a shoulder to lean on,” Sandra recalled. “She even told me, ‘It’s funny how the tables have turned.’”
A constituency assistant for local MPP Howard Hampton’s office here, Eisenzopf added keeping busy by maintaining part-time hours was something that slowly took her mind off her therapy.
“That was important. It gave me something else to focus besides dealing with the cancer. For four hours a day, I got a chance to deal other people’s problems,” she smiled.
Since being clear of her cancer in mid-1994, Eisenzopf and her Legion ladies’ team have been working hard to help with sponsorship and fundraising for cancer events.
Two days after the “Relay for Life,” she went to the Thunder Bay clinic for her annual general check-up. But the simple walk around Pither’s Point was something she wanted to experience.
“I knew I wanted to go out there because its important to show the fight can be won,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Sandra was especially pleased with the support the first-annual “Relay for Life” here received from the community.
“I’m surprised at the turnout. As I look around now, it’s emotional. I feel on a high now that this disease can be beaten,” she said. “My mom’s proven it. I’m glad to have her here with us today.”
Eisenzopf’s grandchildren–Schamin, Savannah, Alissa, and Tiffany–were more than willing to cheer her on during the lap. Sandra took photos at every angle during the run while Alissa held up a sign reading, “We love you Grandma.”
Maybe simple yet strong words are enough to sum up a journey’s end.