Team NT has selected Maggie Carson, who learned she had a brain tumour at her last competition in 2016, as the flag bearer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The young Yellowknifer will lead 150 Team NT athletes, coaches, and mission staff at the opening ceremony on Friday, February 15 to kick off the Games in Red Deer.
Carson was competing in a gymnastics competition in December 2016, in Vancouver, when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour and rushed into emergency surgery.
While she had to take time off following two brain surgeries and chemotherapy to focus on her recovery, she didn’t let the tumour get in the way of her gymnastics training for too long.
Just three months after beginning chemo, she was back to training 16 hours each week for the remaining 16 months of her treatment.
Carson would take off Friday for treatment, rest on Saturday, and then start training again on Sunday.
"I think getting back to sports and getting back to normal life has really put me in the mindset to live in the moment and don't take things for granted," she reflected.
Listen to our interview with Maggie Carson on Cabin Sports Radio, 6-7pm on Monday, February 11, 2019 >> Listen live
Team NT highlighted that Carson is not only back in gymnastics, but also has advanced from level 8 to level 10, earned a spot on the Canada Winter Games team.
The Games in Red Deer will be Carson’s first competition since her brain tumour was discovered at the Vancouver competition three years ago.
"I'm really excited to be able to compete again, especially with my best friends," she said.
"And I'm a little bit nervous because I haven't competed in two years, but I know I'm working really hard in the gym.
"I think it's going to be an amazing experience to have as my first competition back."
'The biggest achievement'
“Having Maggie walk the Northwest Territories flag into the opening ceremony in Red Deer is going to be an incredibly proud moment for us,” said LeeAnna and Rod Carson, Maggie’s parents.
“To have this ceremoniously mark her return to competing will be an emotional time for us to watch.
"We’re so proud of the work she has put in to get back into competition shape and the drive she has to overcome her brain tumour.”
Carson’s coaches, John Tram and Jessica Smith, agreed.
Tram and Smith nominated Carson to be flag bearer, saying she was so dedicated to her sport she wouldn’t even let a brain tumour keep her away.
“Maggie is a brain tumour survivor and that is the biggest life achievement. It goes beyond any sport or any medal,” they said.
“Maggie shows tremendous courage, strength, and grace, while inspiring and motivating her teammates.”
With files from Scott Letkeman