​Patient completes walk from Toronto to Barrie in support of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Lionel Strang - Barrie town sign
Lionel Strang completed his second annual walk from the Princess Margaret’s front doors on University Ave. to his home in Barrie. (Photo: Courtesy of Lionel Strang)

Lionel Strang endured relentless heat, driving rain and blisters the size of toonies on each foot. 

But he wouldn't want it any other way. 

Lionel, a patient at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM), completed his second annual walk from the hospital's front door on University Ave. to his home in Barrie, Ont. It was a journey to raise funds for the Psychosocial Oncology Clinic at PM – and continue defying his prognosis following a cancer diagnosis. 

Four years ago, Lionel was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. As he tells it, "for some reason I figured I'd live, like another 200 or 240 days and should start counting down."  

Not sure where to start, he decided instead to begin counting up. 

Fast forward to last month, Lionel, sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "One More Year, Day 1,461," completed his journey, raising more than $14,000. The two walks and four annual fundraising barbecues he and his friend Barb Webster have hosted since the first anniversary of his diagnosis have brought in more than $35,000. 

Lionel chronicled his entire walk from downtown Toronto to Barrie on Facebook. He uses that platform every day to document his survival – complete with the day number – and offer inspiration. 

"It's exactly 100 kilometres from my house to the front door of Princess Margaret (Cancer Centre)," Lionel said in a video posted as he neared the finish line in the rain on Aug. 25. "And, when I built the house 30 years ago I gotta tell you that wasn't really a consideration. It turns out it is.  

"We made it from the front door of Princess Margaret to my house for the second year in a row. That's pretty good." 

Toronto Western Hospital School of Nursing graduates celebrate 60th reunion

organizing committee
The organizing committee of the “58ers” reunion, which brought together members of the 1958 graduating class for their 60-year reunion. (Photos: Courtesy of Sandra Li-James)

In early September at The Old Mill in the west end of Toronto, the 1958 graduating class of Toronto Western Hospital's (TW) School of Nursing came together to celebrate their 60th reunion. 

Back in 1955, these same women travelled from all over Canada to enrol at the nursing school for a three-year program to become Registered Nurses (RN).  

In those days, the large teaching hospitals in Toronto had their own nursing school – at TW, nurses were formed at the Atkinson School of Nursing – to help care for the many patients admitted to the wards.

For the first two years of the program, students rotated through all the services the hospital offered at the time: surgical, medical, obstetrics, gynecology, obstetrics and mental health. After completing their exams, the third year was spent gaining experience on the hospital's wards and earning a modest salary of $50 a month. 

The Independence
The 1958 graduating class photo of Toronto Western’s School of Nursing.

Of the 94 who enrolled, 90 of those young women completed the program. Sixty years on, many travelled from all over the world – from as far as the United States and Australia – to come together and reminisce. 

"We may have scattered to many places, but we kept in touch and have never gone more than three years without a reunion," says Barbara Watson one of the reunion's organizers. "We have always called ourselves the '58ers." ​

The nursing school was formally dissolved in 1974 and transferred to George Brown College, but many of its memories live on with these former students. ​

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