7,400 kilometers in 90 days, all for cancer research.

Frances Gougeon,

Back in the late ’90s, Frances MacGillivray Gougeon raised more than $35,000 for cancer research by crossing Canada on inline skates.

On June 1st, 1997, Frances MacGillivray Gougeon set out on a mission. She took a leave of absence from her work as a nurse at St. Marthe’s Hospital in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, with a goal in mind: she would inline skate across Canada, covering the more than 7,400 kilometers from Vancouver, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 90 days, to raise money in support of cancer research through the Cancer Research Society. 

Fran was 52, at the time. 

The journey wasn’t easy. At the very beginning, Fran faced police and permit delays which cost her 3 days of her schedule. 

Once she reached Alberta, her team struggled with a camper breakdown. 

Then, crossing into Saskatchewan, Fran suffered a serious fall with little time for recovery on a schedule that was already tight. 

In Manitoba, extreme weather delayed her. And in Ontario, she navigated poor road conditions.

Yet, in spite of the setbacks, Fran managed to make up the time and distance — sometimes skating over 100 kilometers in a single day. 

In the end, Fran’s mission was a success. She fulfilled her dream, arrived in St. John’s, and raised $35,000 in support of the Cancer Research Society. Along the way, she connected with many passionate Canadians who believed, as she does, that research is our best hope to outsmart cancer. 

Her journey took determination, perseverance, and a deep desire to help change the outcomes for all of those affected by cancer. For Fran, it all came down to making a difference. Like many of us, she has lost loved ones to cancer and, as a nurse, she had seen many patients affected by cancer. 

Fran helped people every day, but she wanted to make a larger contribution to society. In crossing the country in support of cancer research, she succeeded.

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