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Cancer Survivor’s Passion for the Arts Spurs Her On

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Peg Keenleyside, 604.948.1981, 604.720.3811,
Marianne_Meadahl/Julie Ovenell-Carter, Media & PR, 604.291.4323

June 13, 2006
To look at Peg Keenleyside, her youthful face framed by short, blond hair, and two young children by her side, you wouldn’t think that she is turning 50 or has recently beat breast cancer. But this newly minted graduate of Simon Fraser University’s school of communication had a baby boy, endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and championed several major projects on her way to convocation mall.

“I was diagnosed in July 2004 about six weeks after my baby boy Nicholas was born,” says the Delta mom of two, who is married to an actor. Nicholas is now two and her daughter Madeleine is four. “I had just finished my term and had been organizing a conference right up until a couple of weeks before I was due in May 2004. My husband was in New York filming The Interpreter the day I got my diagnosis.”

Thirteen months after being diagnosed and treated, Keenleyside returned to SFU. “Chemo and radiation really zap your energy,” she notes. “I’ve always been a really high energy person so this was really hard for me to go through.”

You wouldn’t know it, judging from Keenleyside’s involvement in several major projects before graduating from SFU. She was a member of No Sweat SFU, a student group that championed the creation of an ethical purchasing policy, ensuring that the university never buys clothing produced in Third World sweatshops. She helped fellow communication students market and fundraise for Picture Our World, a project that builds global bonds between underprivileged children. Keenleyside even found time and energy to participate in a relay this May to help the Canadian Cancer Society raise $200,000 in Delta for cancer research.

An actor, writer and producer, Keenleyside attributes her boundless energy to a passion for creativity. Her interest in “how,” she says, “the global political wheel turns on so much patriarchal power,” inspired her to write and produce Hockey Wives, a satirical play featuring the CBC’s Mary Walsh. “I was just always that kid who was organizing all the others in the neighbourhood for the show with the clothes-line and the blanket, you know?” reflects the born creator.

(electronic photo file available)