Doreen McKay proudly sports the ‘Wow’ emblazoned medal she received for her efforts in The Northern View Cannery Road Race. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Run to Win: Doreen McKay refuses to be kept down

A fighting spirit keeps McKay going through difficult times and beyond

It had been just more than three hours since the half-marathon runners took off in The Northern View Cannery Road Race on Sept. 14 when Doreen McKay approached the final upward hill of her 21-kilometre journey along the Port Edward streets. With a determined push, she ascended up and over the finish line.

While she appeared exhausted, and of course to some extent was, after what McKay has gone through in life, that climb was nothing.

McKay grew up in Kitkatla, moving to Prince Rupert in 2000. Athletics were a part of her life from a young age.

“I’ve pretty much ran all my life,” McKay said. “I played basketball when I was a little girl, I’ve been pretty active most of my life.”

This all changed four years ago however when McKay made an all too common discovery.

“I found a lump in my right breast. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage 3,” McKay said. With no history of cancer in her family, McKay was even more in shock that she had been struck with the disease.

It took some time for McKay to fully process the diagnosis. “It was scary,” McKay said. But after having some time to think about it, she knew there was only one thing she could do.

“It took maybe a month or so, and then I said to myself I’m going to fight this thing as hard as I can,” she said. “After the shock wore off I got myself into fighting mode and I said to myself I’m not going to let this win.”

That fight, of course, is one of the most difficult parts about cancer. McKay underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment for nine months. She also had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer from her breast. Medication followed, which is a further drain on a person’s energy.

READ MORE: MVP of the Week: Runner ready for his biggest challenge yet

Key to coming out on the other side is a strong support system. Through her four children, four grand-children and partner John, McKay had this in abundance.

“My love of my life John has always been with me, all the way through. Through all the dark times and the hardest times in my life, he kept me going,” she said.

Doreen McKay’s spirit is not one that can be kept down. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

One day, McKay got the call she had long been waiting for — the cancer was gone.

“When my doctor phoned me and told me, I couldn’t believe it,” McKay said. “I was so happy.”

After some of her more exhausting treatment was over, McKay turned to an old past-time to help in her recovery process. The Rupert Runners were only too happy to welcome her in.

“One of my friends asked me to come run with her on a New Year’s Day run,” McKay explained. “We had people there that were talking about the running club. I was off work then so I needed something to do and I needed to keep active. That’s when I joined, and I’m happy I did. I have a lot of new friends there.”

“Running was something I could get used to and I liked doing because I’d done it most of my life.”

Doreen McKay stretches before taking off on an afternoon run. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

READ MORE: COCULLO: Run like a Rupertite

McKay echoes what is a constant in the Prince Rupert recreation circles, that being the amazing spirit and comradarie of Prince Rupert’s running community.

“I love all my running friends, they keep me going,” McKay said. Nowhere was this more evidenced than the day of the Cannery Road Race itself. While McKay approached the finish line, several of her fellow racers and friends ran out to meet her, providing an escort for the final stretch. The effort made for an emotional scene at the finish line as the group all crossed together. Runners in Prince Rupert leave no one behind.

READ MORE: The Northern View Cannery Road Race: Photos and video

“That was my toughest run ever,” McKay said. “I was happy to get to the finish line and my friends were there to meet me. It empowered me so much.”

Doreen McKay begins the final climb to the finish line at The Northern View Cannery Road Race. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Results and placements are not an issue for McKay. That isn’t what her time on the road is about.

“It’s the getting out there and getting to the finish line. It keeps me strong, it keeps me running everyday for my life basically. I’m cancer free for three years now, and it just keeps me fighting everyday,” she said.

“I’ve had a lot of side effects that could have held me down, but I fought through and I’m still going.”

“Me running everyday is me still winning,” McKay said.


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Prince Rupert 2030 Vision ready to be shared with the public

Redesign Rupert is unveiling their plan for the city

Hazelton aces their way to gold at Grade 8 girls volleyball zones

Smithers schools grab silver and bronze at Prince Rupert Middle School tournament

MVP of the Week: Once a Rainmaker, always a Rainmaker

Duncan Ryan was one of the founding members of the rugby squad — now he’s securing the team’s future

Q&A with Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin

Helin spoke about topics in his community ahead of the village’s upcoming election

Your Prince Rupert 55th Rotary Auction guide

Online guide to all the items up for bid before Monday’s live auction

Student tells B.C. Supreme Court she wasn’t allowed to leave Indigenous smudging ceremony

Girl cross-examined Monday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Tuesday

Trans Mountain received $320M in government subsidies in first half 2019: report

The money included $135.8 million in direct subsidies and $183.8 million in indirect subsidies

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Sentencing scheduled Tuesday for man who killed Belgian tourist

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Sakkalis near Boston Bar

Most Read