B.C. lead's quest truly inspiring

SEAN GRASSIE, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

IQALUIT -- B.C. lead Anita Cochrane would have preferred to be on the ice instead of in the stands when we played her team at the Arnaitok Arena in Iqaluit at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship on Wednesday night.

The fact that she is here competing at this event at all, however, is truly inspiring.

Cochrane has incurable cancer, but was determined not to miss out on her first national curling championship.

"It was never an option for me not to come here," said Cochrane, 37, who is joined in Iqaluit by her parents, who flew in all the way from Australia.

Cochrane adjusted her chemotherapy schedule before coming, taking an extra week off so she would have enough energy to compete. She played in seven of B.C.'s first nine games.

Shortly after Cochrane married her husband Michael in May of 2001, the couple shaved their heads and embarked on a cross-Canada bike trip for their honeymoon. Part of their journey was to raise money for cancer research, as the disease had claimed Michael's mother and a sister of Anita's maid-of-honour. They raised $1,200. At their final stop in St. John's, N.L., four months later, Cochrane discovered a lump, and in May of 2002, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Over the past five years, her women's curling team has raised almost $160,000 and donated it to the Weekend to End Breast Cancer foundation.

"I have always loved life," she said. "That's one thing that hasn't changed."

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As the weather is heating up here in Iqaluit, so is the action at the Arnaitok Arena as round-robin play heads into the home stretch.

Our team booked a ticket for tomorrow's championship game in Iqaluit after beating Saskatchewan's Darrell McKee 9-6 in a first-place showdown here last night to improve to 9-1. Trailing 6-5 after seven ends in what was a see-saw battle, we broke things open with a decisive four-ender in the eighth. Saskatchewan will finish the round-robin in second place at 9-2, and will play either Ontario's Wayne Tuck (8-3) or Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey (7-3) in tonight's semi-final. Dacey needs to beat New Brunswick this morning to force a tie-breaker with Ontario. We play our final round-robin game this morning against P.E.I.

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We have had no trouble finding excellent food here. Contrary to what some may think, we have not been surviving on a diet of seal, caribou and walrus.

Buffets are offered to us every day for lunch, and the menus are not much different from what we would see back home. We will, though, get a chance to sample more of the traditional Inuit food at the athletic club today.

It warmed up to -8 C here on Wednesday, and for the first time we felt comfortable walking around. There are a lot of hills and snow here, but you will not find a single tree. Iqaluit is on the south coast of Baffin Island.


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