Biggest loser is the lucky one

Janice Gardner-Chisholm lost over 200 pounds after gastric bypass surgery and has been selected to be a torch bearer in Langley on Feb. 8.

The chance to carry the Olympic torch is a chance to celebrate a new life for Janice Gardner-Chisholm.

Ten years ago, she was suffering from congestive heart failure.

And three years ago, she had gastric bypass surgery.

The 40-year-old has since lost 245 pounds.

“The surgery is not an easy fix,” she said. “It is a gift.”

With only a limited number of the surgeries done each year in British Columbia, Gardner-Chisholm knows she is one of the lucky ones.

“I knew I had to give 90 per cent and the surgery was only 10 per cent,” she said.

“This is a totally different life I have been given and I have to maintain it.

“I went from not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without being winded to this past October (when) I did three half marathons in three weeks.”

An avid Coke drinker her whole life, Gardner-Chisholm was constantly collecting the online points through a Coke promotion and redeeming them.

One day, she saw that Coke was sponsoring a contest where people could submit the chance to carry the Olympic torch during its cross-Canada trek.

On a whim and with no expectations, she entered.

“When I did the half marathon, I thought it was part of my journey in losing all the weight and giving back to the surgeon,” she explained about why she entered the contest. “Trying to promote as much as I can about the surgery and keep my life. I wanted to do it as another way of showing that I have made it.”

Back in August, Gardner-Chisholm received a phone call at work telling her she had been selected.

“I didn’t believe her; I had a few choice words,” she said with a laugh.

It soon clicked in that this was no joke and Gardner-Chisholm would be carrying the Olympic torch.

The first calls were to her parents and boyfriend, who have been instrumental in supporting her along the way.

And with her big day quickly approaching, Gardner-Chisholm is a roller coaster of emotions.

“I have been following the torch relay,” she said. “I look at the pictures online and the stories from the torchbearers and get tears in my eyes.”

To prepare, she has been walking on her treadmill and going for walks during her lunch hour.

And while 300m doesn’t seem like a long distance, she knows it will be something special.

“I think I am just going to go with pure adrenalin that day,” she said. “I am very excited.”

Born in Victoria, but raised in Delta, Gardner-Chisholm is new to Langley, relocating here following a recent divorce.

She will carry the torch in Walnut Grove on Feb. 8, beginning her jaunt at 208 Street at 90A Avenue and running to Telegraph Trail.

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