The beautiful and always happy Laurel, daughter extraordinaire. From a girl who began her life with serious medical problems and one educational disaster after another, Laurel has grown up to be a gentle, funny person who is never in a bad mood. Throughout the book she is my daily dose of sunshine and always ready to encourage me. Perhaps because she struggled so hard with autism and blindness in her life, she has compassion beyond her years. Everyone should have their very own personal Laurel!

My patient and always cheerful trainer, David, hiking in the snow with his baby son. David works for Rep1, a Vancouver gym on West Broadway, and it was my great fortune to be assigned to him when I first started. The book traces my early workouts with him, which cause me a great deal of discomfort and agony as I struggled to lose the first 30 pounds. David is well-known around Vancouver as an endlessly encouraging and always smiling personal trainer as well as a family man, marathon bike racer and soccer player.

yuri-maryMARY AND YURI
Mary and Yuri, our two little miniature pinschers. At 15 pounds and 5 pounds, these hyperactive rascals play a strong supporting role throughout the book as I start exercising for the first time in my life. They can be spotted providing comedy relief in the office and warming up my legs as I lie groaning in bed. In the book, both Mary and Yuri take turns jogging alongside me in Stanley Park and down to Jericho Beach. In the months after the “big race”, they became great running buddies for me and Laurel in the woods near our neighbourhood. Yuri was killed by a pit bull in November 2014.

Jennie and ZipperJENNIE AND ZIPPER
Jennie, our tiny shy girl cat and Zipper, our large gentle tabby. Jennie and Zipper are not often visible in the book (except for the cat hair everywhere), but they gave me lots of moral support on the nights when I couldn’t sleep. They romped around the office as I researched brain tumours on the Web and wrote the book. If you have a cat, you know what I mean: they always look like they’re off on their own, chasing flies or coughing up hair balls. But when you need them the most, they know how to appear right on cue.

The meningioma is a brain tumour that appears as a character fairly early in the book when I began experiencing vertigo, headaches and severe balance issues. The meningioma developed in my left frontal lobe towards the pre-motor cortex. During the book, it stays at a fairly stable size, growing only .2 centimeters each year, but with the potential to have a sudden and unpredictable growth spurt. Like a pesky little white passenger, it contributed no end of grief as I learned to run.
Learn more about meningiomas.