A Cup of Coffee…with Hélène Campbell

Let me tell you a very touching story, which, I hope, will make you think.

Helene's picture with her mom

Helene's picture with her mom, Photo: Cole Burston

It is February 2012, in Toronto, and it is like any other day for Hélène Campbell: she is waiting for a lung transplant. She wants a good cup of coffee. What could be more normal and ordinary than a young 20-year-old woman wanting a good coffee in the morning? She decides to make the long journey to the coffee maker. There are only a couple metres between her and the kitchen, but for Hélène, it feels like a marathon away. Breathless, she makes it to the kitchen and slowly, with difficulty, she makes coffee for her mother and her. However, she remembers how she felt while making that coffee, “This may be the last cup of coffee I make by myself, I don’t have any strength left. I am going to need someone to do it for me from now on. Perhaps this is my last coffee.”

Almost everyone has heard the story of Hélène Campbell, the 22-year-old young woman from Ottawa whose courageous story even made it to the set of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Yes, Hélène Campbell is arguably an example of courage, determination and perseverance. Despite all that life has thrown at her, in her short 20 years, Hélène fought hard and she never lost hope. Of course, she was fortunate to receive a double lung transplant, which has given her a second wind, a second chance to enjoy life. And this is exactly what she has been doing.

Alive to Strive and Hélène Campbell working together again

Since her transplant, Hélène has resumed a more normal life. She can walk, make a cup of coffee, dress herself. She is living her life, like most young women her age. But she carries inside her a little something extra: a little voice that reminds her from time to time to not take this life for granted. That she must live her life to the fullest, savour each day, and take advantage of what life has to offer.

Running the Alive to Strive 5K

Hélène is involved in several causes that promote health and organ donation. For her, health is very important, and she works hard to make exercise a regular part of her life. “It is not always easy to stay motivated, to persevere, to have a goal that will get me off the couch,” she admits. But she always keeps in mind something her aunt often told her when she was younger, “One step at a time, you can climb the tallest mountain.” But for Hélène, in life we don’t climb one mountain; we climb several. As soon as we reach the top of one, another one awaits us. So we keep going. She finds it easier to set goals that help keep her motivated. This is why she decided to take up the challenge of participating in the Alive to Strive 5K Race, on Sunday, April 27, 2014.  “I told myself, “I said I would do it, so I am going to do it. If I have to walk for part of the race, or even if I don’t finish the entire 5 km, even that will be exceptional!”” “When I lack motivation, I talk to myself. I say, “Hélène, you are going to do it. You are going to get out of bed, you are going to think about all the people who can’t get out of bed today.” However, I sometimes find it hard to motivate myself. I need to have people around me who are working towards the same goal. This is why I am excited to train with the group.” In fact, Alive to Strive Kidney Fitness Project decided to start up a 5K training group starting the week of March 10. For a total of seven weeks, the group will meet twice a week for one hour in the evening to train under the supervision and with the expert advice of a kinesiologist from Ottawa Osteopathy and Sports Therapy. The 5K group training is adapted for kidney patients but is open to the public.  If you would like to join this group, please send an e-mail to alivetostrive@gmail.com.

One cannot help but smile at the honesty and authenticity of this young woman. She goes on to confess, “You know, I will go as far as to say that today I am not motivated, but I am here anyway. I am going to train with these people, and it is going to be good for me. This is what a training group is good for, to understand and encourage one another when we have those more difficult days.”

It will certainly be a pleasure to welcome Hélène among our runners and walkers as part of the 4th edition of the Alive to Strive Race. We invite you to join Hélène Campbell in taking up the challenge, the challenge of taking charge of your health, one step at a time.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, April 27, 2014!

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