From Broadway to brain cancer, to proving the power of purpose with Catherine Wreford

Have you ever stopped to think of how powerful a challenge can be?

Or how purpose can literally save your life?

This is what we’re going to talk about today.

And we have Catherine Wreford, one of the strongest people I know, to tell us her incredible story.

From staring on Broadway, to running a mortgage company, to nursing school.

And then the unthinkable happened. A brain tumor, the size of her fist.

But, yet again, Catherine demonstrates just what can happen when you put your mind to something.

And that cancer is just a word, and not a sentence.

There is so much here.

I promise you’ll laugh, you’ll get goosebumps, and there may be tears from Cath and me.

But without question you’ll come out realizing just what is possible when you push through adverse situations, put your mind to something, and follow your heart.

And Catherine sums up our conversation perfectly, saying “You need to get out there and live life. If you want to be part of life, you need to do it yourself”.

Words to live by.

So grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and enjoy this conversation with Catherine.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:58:21
Philippa White
My name is Philippa Whiteand welcome to TIE Unearthed. When disaster strikes, there are two things you can do. Accept and become a victim. Or turn the challenge into your superpower. Today we are talking with one of the strongest people I know. Welcome to episode 57 of TIE Unearthed with my sister from another mother, Catherine Referred. I’ve known Catherine since she was pretty much born.

00:00:59:07 – 00:01:22:16
Philippa White
We grew up together. Our houses were on the same street for a long time, and every year our families had Christmas and Thanksgiving together. Catherine was raised in Winnipeg and she started her career as a performer. She performed at the Stratford Festival in Canada at the age of 18, and then she went on to play leading roles in many New York Broadway shows and tours.

00:01:23:05 – 00:01:50:11
Philippa White
She then ran a mortgage company in L.A. and then became a nurse at every turn, completely beating the odds. And life was not always easy, but she kept going in the face of significant adversity. But then, the unthinkable happened in 2013, when her daughter was five weeks old. She was diagnosed with brain cancer and given 2 to 6 years to live.

00:01:50:23 – 00:02:24:09
Philippa White
She had an awake craniotomy, radiation and four kinds of chemotherapy. But Catherine has never been one to take something lying down, and she embodies what a force of nature looks like. This is a story of hope, determination and resilience and proves the power of purpose. It’s mind blowing, which she has managed to do and continues to do. So if you want to feel inspired and truly understand that literally anything is possible, if you put your mind to it, keep listening.

00:02:24:21 – 00:02:32:05
Philippa White
Grab that drink of whatever takes your fancy. And here’s Catherine. Catherine?

00:02:32:14 – 00:02:33:02
Catherine Wreford
Yes.

00:02:33:07 – 00:02:51:24
Philippa White
This is a very special episode for our listeners. Catherine is basically my sister. We grew up together and she will tell you the rest and this will all come out on this podcast. She’s a very special person in my life and I am so happy to have you with us. Thank you for joining.

00:02:52:05 – 00:02:54:22
Catherine Wreford
I’m so happy to be there. You’re almost making me cry, you know?

00:02:54:23 – 00:02:59:24
Catherine Wreford
See, I think there might be tears. Oh, my gosh. On this episode, I’m.

00:02:59:24 – 00:03:05:06
Philippa White
Feeling I am feeling very cheery as well. This is going to be fun.

00:03:05:08 – 00:03:06:06
Catherine Wreford
Okay, well, there you go.

00:03:06:24 – 00:03:20:10
Philippa White
Here we go. Catherine, before we get into all the emotional stuff, you’re an amazing person. Have always been a huge inspiration to so many people in so many ways. Can you tell us a little bit about you and your incredible background?

00:03:20:13 – 00:03:21:06
Catherine Wreford
Well.

00:03:22:11 – 00:03:25:00
Catherine Wreford
At the start, I grew up in Winnipeg.

00:03:25:00 – 00:03:53:07
Catherine Wreford
With filling Catherine’s legs, and this is where we started. I’m in I’m back in the city where we started. I’m in Winnipeg right now. I always wanted to be on stage. I wanted to do ballet or jazz or whatever. I just knew I needed to be in front of people. I saw a almost Broadway version. It was in Toronto of the Who’s Tommy, and when I was there for the National Ballet, and I sat there alone and listened to the opening, which is like.

00:03:53:13 – 00:03:55:05
Catherine Wreford
Bob, how Bob.

00:03:55:11 – 00:04:18:03
Catherine Wreford
And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do. So I came home and then immediately focused on musical theater. At 18, I went to Toronto, did the Stratford Festival, I did West Side Story and then others making sure I got a job on Broadway, danced there for a while, moved to L.A., did some movies, ran a mortgage company, went to nursing school, married my husband, have two kids, and I’m back in Winnipeg.

00:04:19:02 – 00:04:24:03
Catherine Wreford
That that is that’s great. But I mean, that is but it was a.

00:04:24:03 – 00:04:39:16
Philippa White
Perfect introduction to what we’re going to be talking about, because it is unbelievable. At school, Catherine was one of these people that was just always bit like Zig Zag was like This to think is my brother. For our listeners who won’t know who I’m talking about. You were so busy. You were dancing at high school. You were already really, really busy with everything.

00:04:39:16 – 00:04:55:03
Philippa White
And yet you never seem to ever study because straight A’s, I just never understood your brain and to that point, dancing and obviously we’re going to get to this. But the fact that you then decided I am going to do mortgage broking and then just did it and did really well and made money and said.

00:04:55:10 – 00:04:57:09
Catherine Wreford
We’re going to do some nursing. And then I just.

00:04:57:09 – 00:05:04:08
Philippa White
Started working in nursing and studying and doing really well. I mean, it’s just extraordinary. It’s whatever you put your mind to, you literally do it. It’s unbelievable.

00:05:04:14 – 00:05:14:12
Catherine Wreford
Well, yeah, thanks. I mean, I think when you have my kind of brain in your kind of brain, when you decide you want to do something, it’s like a challenge. If I give myself a challenge and like, wow, I’m not going to fail at that challenge.

00:05:15:02 – 00:05:23:16
Catherine Wreford
So, you know, and then I just started doing the way. Yeah, right. Well, so many people are like only 0.002%.

00:05:23:16 – 00:05:31:10
Catherine Wreford
People make it on Broadway. I’m like, Well, I’m going to be that .002 person. And I think it was Lloyd’s dad, Lloyd, or his dad who told me that.

00:05:31:10 – 00:05:32:13
Catherine Wreford
And it’s Lloyd.

00:05:32:13 – 00:05:36:17
Catherine Wreford
One time and I’m not quite 002 person.

00:05:36:17 – 00:05:43:00
Catherine Wreford
I’m not repetitive an array of it’s stuck in my brain. Oh, boy. Okay, that’s funny.

00:05:43:01 – 00:05:50:15
Philippa White
So before we start getting into all the crazy stuff, let’s make it light right now. What comes to your mind when you think of a story of us?

00:05:50:16 – 00:06:02:07
Catherine Wreford
One of my favorite stories is I think you’ve already posted this on online when we did our fake wedding, when you were the groom, Liz was the bride, Catherine was the priest, and I was.

00:06:02:15 – 00:06:05:24
Catherine Wreford
Oh, are you? I was a witness.

00:06:05:24 – 00:06:24:24
Catherine Wreford
I wasn’t wearing my own clothes. I was wearing I think your clothes are like Liz’s clothes. And I was just they were way too big on me and I felt so proud of myself for being as my other special memories are when we made the gingerbread houses. Yeah, we. Your mom used to make them. She would bake them and then we would put together.

00:06:24:24 – 00:06:26:22
Catherine Wreford
Some of them were super intricate.

00:06:27:06 – 00:06:28:13
Philippa White
Yeah, I know.

00:06:28:14 – 00:06:31:23
Catherine Wreford
Doorways yet to build the doorways starting.

00:06:32:03 – 00:06:33:06
Philippa White
With the icing and sort.

00:06:33:06 – 00:06:33:18
Catherine Wreford
Of nine.

00:06:33:18 – 00:06:36:03
Philippa White
But everything on that they would smash them on.

00:06:36:03 – 00:06:39:19
Catherine Wreford
Christmas. We smashed them on Christmas. Yeah, we put our hands all the time.

00:06:40:23 – 00:06:49:05
Catherine Wreford
For instance, on her cutting the icing because it got so loud. Yeah, there’s a bloody red around. Want to eat it?

00:06:51:00 – 00:07:01:23
Philippa White
I was thinking as well and I wanted to ask you that question sort of what memories I have. Yeah. You and your dancing from when you were four or five. I mean, you always are sort of in the living room doing things.

00:07:01:23 – 00:07:04:12
Catherine Wreford
And I remember you coming over and I was dancing around.

00:07:04:12 – 00:07:14:20
Catherine Wreford
Naked all the time. All the time you will one day put on clothes and I. Well, I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to say that on this is it’s so funny that the guy literally.

00:07:14:20 – 00:07:16:23
Philippa White
Still was in my brain. I still.

00:07:17:09 – 00:07:18:06
Catherine Wreford
Do. I run naked.

00:07:18:06 – 00:07:24:00
Philippa White
Dancing naked all the time and tobogganing on the stairs. Going down the stairs. Oh, yeah. That’s how you didn’t hurt your tooth.

00:07:24:01 – 00:07:26:24
Catherine Wreford
Yeah. Say, I made her go down with people.

00:07:27:12 – 00:07:35:16
Philippa White
So what’s interesting, you know, back to what we were talking about, how you just put your mind to something and you do it. And you were on Broadway. What were the main shows that you did?

00:07:35:16 – 00:07:45:05
Catherine Wreford
Annie Get Your Gun 42nd Street in Oklahoma. It was on the 20 awards twice with 42nd Street in Oklahoma. And then I toured as Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street around the US.

00:07:45:06 – 00:07:50:21
Philippa White
It was your career, it was your life. You had given everything to it. Obviously it speaks to your soul. Tell us what.

00:07:50:21 – 00:08:11:23
Catherine Wreford
Happened. I almost had my Achilles tendon on stage. Yeah, it sucked. I finished the number, passed out for a final ball, so I had to be taken to the emergency room. I came home to Winnipeg to work with somebody that your dad knew. Physical therapists, specialized dancers and sport was there every day for six weeks, went back. But all I could do is do the show on ice.

00:08:11:23 – 00:08:30:13
Catherine Wreford
My flight was I was miserable and I was in pain all the time. I ended up moving to L.A. after that. I never expected to move to L.A. I really didn’t like L.A. very much, but we were on the the West Coast, and I think my last show was in San Francisco and then came back to L.A. and lived there, did movies and stuff like that.

00:08:30:13 – 00:08:52:00
Catherine Wreford
But I was never really satisfied with anything. I was really doing because I was so passionate about being on stage, but my body couldn’t handle any more, kept doing each other. We in high heel tap shoes and my body had never had a break. So I stopped, had some different relationships with some famous people and then realized I didn’t want to be in that world.

00:08:52:00 – 00:09:14:07
Catherine Wreford
I moved into my own apartment. I didn’t even have any furniture with my two cats sleeping on the floor at my computer and on Craigslist there was a and they were opening up a new company and you can make thousands of dollars and I’m like, bullshit. So I called the number late on a Sunday night. I was just expecting to leave a message, but they were there because they were setting up the company.

00:09:14:10 – 00:09:36:17
Catherine Wreford
So I went in and they said, Well, you’re going to be on the phone. We’re going to give you a list of people to call that have made an inquiry about a mortgage online or refinancing their mortgage online. So I’m doing called you don’t get paid anything. It’s just based on commission. So I started that day I started calling these numbers and I took really good notes about who I was talking to and what their kids names were and what.

00:09:36:17 – 00:09:51:07
Catherine Wreford
Then I made a full sheet for them and I would call them back and this was before you should never give your social insurance number or the phone. So and we would run their credit and then I would give it to Cyrus and then he would call them. At the end of the day, I said, So how did I do it?

00:09:51:07 – 00:10:07:18
Catherine Wreford
Well, the normal person, when we hire them, can get to in a week. You’ve got 15 today. Oh cool. Can I, can I try to close one. No, no we don’t allow that ever. So I came in the next day and the very first one I got, I’m like, can I call him back and try to close them?

00:10:07:18 – 00:10:29:04
Catherine Wreford
Okay, sure. Done. And then I got like five more properties. Oh, okay. So can you hire some people to work under you? So I hired a bunch of people and then I had my own office and it was just so quick. The mortgage world is not for everyone, and it was not for me either. You know, there was a lot of silly stuff I did during that time and I decided that’s not what I wanted.

00:10:29:04 – 00:10:41:19
Catherine Wreford
So I wanted to go to nursing because I always loved medicine. Also, like thanks to your dad, I remember Catherine kind of her hand on a sleepover. That’s Phil’s sister. She cut her hand. We were carving. So. And she had sliced her head.

00:10:41:21 – 00:10:43:04
Philippa White
I remember that wide open.

00:10:43:04 – 00:10:44:00
Catherine Wreford
You could see and you could.

00:10:44:00 – 00:10:45:06
Catherine Wreford
See the glove blows.

00:10:45:06 – 00:10:45:21
Philippa White
I remember.

00:10:45:21 – 00:11:05:04
Catherine Wreford
That. And your dad came over, gave her a shot and sort her back up and he fell asleep. And her dad was like, No, I’m just coming home. I was like, Oh, man, I love math, I love science, I love all that kind of stuff. And so I went to nursing school, but because I was going to school during the day, I needed a job sort of at night.

00:11:05:04 – 00:11:22:17
Catherine Wreford
I got a job at a super fancy sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. I’d never worked at a restaurant ever in my life. And so when I applied there, you’re supposed to have three years of fine dining experience. They said, Well, do you want to be a hostess like somebody that kind of greets people? No, no, I want to.

00:11:22:17 – 00:11:45:12
Catherine Wreford
I want a job as a server. So they hired me and they hired me on New Year’s Eve and I started New Year’s Day. Wasn’t like a big crowd on New Year’s Day. I was in a five week all day chemistry course at the time, so I was doing chemistry all day. I had to learn the menu in Japanese.

00:11:45:13 – 00:12:04:02
Catherine Wreford
I also had to learn how to use their system and I had to learn all the drinks. And so I just said a bad word, but I’m not going to repeat it. I guess I’ll just go with it. So I just took every day, like one day at a time. Also, there was other stuff I was dealing with my ex and blah blah blah.

00:12:04:04 – 00:12:12:17
Catherine Wreford
Couple of days into working I was was serving Joel, my now husband. Little did he know that I was just a mess.

00:12:12:17 – 00:12:13:11
Catherine Wreford
At that point.

00:12:14:11 – 00:12:16:03
Catherine Wreford
I told him everything that should have made him like.

00:12:16:05 – 00:12:17:11
Philippa White
Run as.

00:12:17:20 – 00:12:26:15
Catherine Wreford
Fast as he could. He was like, I was actually waiting for somebody to be real with me. And so we started dating and oh, here we are 13 years later and we’re still married.

00:12:26:15 – 00:12:28:18
Catherine Wreford
Yeah. So you moved to Oklahoma and.

00:12:29:04 – 00:12:46:12
Catherine Wreford
Oklahoma, so we got married in L.A. It was just a fun party, and it was also kind of like a going away party from Los Angeles. We had all of our friends there and then so we moved to Oklahoma because that’s where Joel’s family are from. I done two years of nursing school, so I took I’d gotten into the nursing school in Oklahoma.

00:12:46:14 – 00:13:03:06
Catherine Wreford
I decided to take a year off. I tested at the top to get it. So I came in the next year. I was 30 at the time of my going back to nursing school because I was the oldest and I could apply for all these different scholarships. So I got paid to go to school and then I graduated the top of my class.

00:13:03:06 – 00:13:30:21
Catherine Wreford
I was still pregnant was when I graduated May 10th. She wasn’t born till May 18, so I graduated nine months pregnant, had went on the 18th, was supposed to start studying for my RN on the 25th, which is the day before my birthday. I was getting ready to start studying for that. Craig had come down for my 33rd birthday and so we were filming a video of me doing exercises with her on the board and then lifting her up.

00:13:30:21 – 00:13:48:06
Catherine Wreford
And I had no worse headache. And I said, Craig, we have to stop using what? Because he knows me better than anybody. I would never stop for anything, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t even function. I couldn’t make words, I couldn’t do anything. So I was like, I have to stop. I feel like now you have to go to the doctor.

00:13:48:06 – 00:14:05:01
Catherine Wreford
I just had a baby. I was two and a half year old. I’m working. I’m fine. He left that Saturday. The next day, Joel was in the shower and I was showering Quinn, I think, as the meaning of the the doorway. And I said, Oh, I’m really dizzy. He goes, We’ll go lie down. And the bed was three feet behind me.

00:14:05:01 – 00:14:20:02
Catherine Wreford
And instead I went to the bed to lie down. I just lay down on the bathroom floor. I didn’t have a doctor. I called my midwife because she’d given birth to both babies. So I called her and she was at the hospital that I actually did some rounds. So all the nurses, their nannies and she goes, You need to go to the emergency room now.

00:14:20:04 – 00:14:41:22
Catherine Wreford
I thought she was kidding. She’s like, Get there now. So, okay, fine. So Joel had gone to work already and Elliot was at daycare. So I went in and all the nurses there knew me. They hadn’t met Quinn’s counsel breastfeeding. That’s why she’s here. So then they did two EKGs and nothing. And then I said, Well, maybe you have a small brain bleed because you give birth naturally from the pushing.

00:14:41:24 – 00:15:05:05
Catherine Wreford
So they were sort of fighting over who would hold. Quinn and I went in for a quick C.T. and I came out. Everybody’s faces were white and where is my daughter was when they’re like, I’m just here for a minute. Haha, very funny. My daughter Quinn just wait, don’t, don’t get up, just sit here. And then doctors are coming into the room and doctor said, You have a mess on your brain.

00:15:05:05 – 00:15:27:05
Catherine Wreford
They said, Do you want to see it? Yeah, sure. And so they showed it to me and it was bigger than my fist. And I said, I’m gonna my husband, I just was in shock and I just remember I couldn’t find words for anything. I still can’t even remember who I called and what I did that night. I had to go down immediately for an MRI so I couldn’t get Quinn back.

00:15:27:05 – 00:15:44:22
Catherine Wreford
So they gave her to one of the nurses. And then Joel came to the hospital with Eliot, showed up with Eliot. Ryan was hungry and he had to go get a hot dog for him. And then I was still in the Marines and he got Quinn as he had Quinn, and there was no milk pumps. She was starving.

00:15:44:22 – 00:15:57:05
Catherine Wreford
And so she was crying and Ali was crying. And then this neuro guy came and talked to him and said, she’s going to have to have surgery, but she’s going to have to be awake because it’s right on her speech center. And my husband was like, Oh, she’s going to think that’s cool.

00:15:57:05 – 00:16:02:10
Catherine Wreford
And well, Joel was like, You are okay. Okay. Well, I don’t think she’s.

00:16:02:10 – 00:16:15:17
Catherine Wreford
Going to be thinking that. So I came back up from the MRI. He was explaining that I’d had to have surgery and we’d get the best surgeon possible and we were all crying. The first one, you’re going to have to be like, Oh, that’s going to be cool. And my husband’s like, I told.

00:16:15:17 – 00:16:15:24
Catherine Wreford
You, I.

00:16:15:24 – 00:16:36:19
Catherine Wreford
Told you. That was the first kind of laughter that we had during that whole experience. This is what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to have inside jokes that can help us through this. And so I ended up having brain surgery awake and awake, craniotomy, and then they weren’t sure what they were going to do after that.

00:16:36:19 – 00:16:56:18
Catherine Wreford
So it was a anaplastic astrocytoma, which is one less than what your dad had. And I actually called you and Cath right away. You know, that time that we spent in Seattle with your dad and the family was meant so much to me, and and I just remember thinking, okay, he was so strong during that time, even when he knew.

00:16:57:00 – 00:17:04:17
Philippa White
He knew it wasn’t off the level of the brain tumor. It was he had a year to live and the treatments changed a lot since then as well.

00:17:04:17 – 00:17:07:06
Catherine Wreford
But it’s not very much.

00:17:07:06 – 00:17:08:09
Catherine Wreford
Not very much.

00:17:08:10 – 00:17:27:07
Philippa White
I remember, though, when my dad was at the hospital and he was sick. I think you had sent the pillows. I wish I was in Paris because he was supposed to be going to Paris with my mom and they couldn’t go. And you had found these pillows somewhere and you were going through a really hard time at the time and you had sent these pillows.

00:17:27:07 – 00:17:48:13
Philippa White
I wish I was in Paris and my dad was so happy with these pillows, you know, and we were talking about how you were going through a really, really difficult moment. And there was just so much change in your life. And my dad said, Oh, Catherine is one of the strongest people I know. And it’s funny, right? Like he he oh, he loves you.

00:17:48:22 – 00:17:49:14
Philippa White
But, you.

00:17:49:20 – 00:17:52:14
Catherine Wreford
Know, I loved him, too.

00:17:52:14 – 00:17:54:15
Catherine Wreford
So he was my other dad.

00:17:54:16 – 00:17:55:01
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:17:55:05 – 00:17:57:06
Catherine Wreford
Yeah. He was a very, very special person.

00:17:57:08 – 00:18:17:17
Philippa White
To understand what is needed to transcend such and a difficult situation, even when it comes to laughing at the fact that you’re going to, you know, I’m going to have an awake craniotomy. I remember you sending these emails saying I’m going to have an away craniotomy. What the what the hell does that even mean? And for our listeners, that means maybe very quickly, just they have.

00:18:17:17 – 00:18:33:12
Catherine Wreford
To they were touching my brain and having me count and move my left arm. Oh, and my right arm. I was pinned to the ground on the side of my right side, pins, screws into my head to keep me from what happened there were touching my head and having me count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

00:18:33:12 – 00:18:53:08
Catherine Wreford
One, two, three, four, five, six. Sit, sit, sit, sit. Table. That’s where it is. Right? So cut that part of her brain out because then she won’t be able to talk and talking to them, making sense talking. And so I’m not saying gibberish to them. Yeah, but even after that, the swelling of it and they might have kind of couple of things that they really should have kept your brain so good at rewiring.

00:18:53:09 – 00:19:09:03
Catherine Wreford
Yeah. So I had to be in speech therapy all the time and they were showing you pictures like an app. And I’d be. That’s a horse race horse. That’s a horse. Oh, it’s not a horse. That’s a horse. So it was just super refreshing. I knew I had total aphasia, so I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

00:19:09:12 – 00:19:28:07
Catherine Wreford
Couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t write anything. I couldn’t sign anything. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever experienced in my body. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I just couldn’t get it out a year. It took me to be able to talk a bit faster, and then it took me maybe three years ago where I can speak without thinking about it all the time.

00:19:28:10 – 00:19:39:08
Catherine Wreford
And then I still think about it sometimes, but not every sentence. I would lose my train of thought so quickly from one word to the next. What was it? How you remind me what I was.

00:19:39:08 – 00:19:55:01
Philippa White
Just was I mean, and just thinking of the fact that one you were obviously shortly before all of this studying like crazy and doing nursing and about to get into that. Before that you were acting and needing to remember lines. It must have been just really, really.

00:19:55:01 – 00:19:55:16
Catherine Wreford
It was really.

00:19:55:23 – 00:19:56:09
Philippa White
Awful.

00:19:56:10 – 00:20:13:21
Catherine Wreford
Really frustrating. I would get really mad. I was grieving the loss of who I was and that sucks because I’m still not who I used to be. I feel like I’m a better me. I’m grateful that cancer hit me and nobody else in my family. I don’t think I don’t think Liz could handled it very well. I don’t think my mom.

00:20:13:21 – 00:20:14:24
Catherine Wreford
Can very well.

00:20:15:03 – 00:20:35:06
Catherine Wreford
I don’t think anybody could have handled that as well as I did, you know, and I’m kind of proud of that because I took it again as a challenge. Right. This is what my challenge is and this is what I’m going to do. So we had that year of me in treatment and did four kinds of chemo radiation, and I had years to sort of figure out what I wanted to do.

00:20:35:07 – 00:20:55:04
Catherine Wreford
They gave me 2 to 6 years to live. I’m at nine years now, so I always say I am past my expiration date. But I mean, I live sort of MRI to MRI. The last summer I had was stable, which is amazing, which means nothing is growing, nothing is changing. I have another one in September, so we’ll just keep hoping for that too.

00:20:55:04 – 00:21:14:05
Catherine Wreford
I have a couple weeks going into the MRI that I get really anxious and then that week that I don’t know, I get really anxious. So it’s a kind of a month of me being on a bit of a higher level of of worrying. I took the class after I had my surgery exams supposed to start. I was supposed to have it on July 5th, which is the day my surgery was, and I would call.

00:21:14:05 – 00:21:35:04
Catherine Wreford
And you’re never allowed to reschedule your exam once you’ve made it. And I said, I’m going to have brain surgery that day. Yeah, we can change it. So they changed it to be September 16th. I thought that was a good enough time for me to recover, but I still couldn’t really talk very well. When I took the exam it was a computer exam, so I went in and passed it easily.

00:21:36:06 – 00:21:36:18
Catherine Wreford
And.

00:21:36:21 – 00:21:42:12
Catherine Wreford
Got my nursing certificate and then I decided I didn’t want to be a nurse. I just needed to prove that I.

00:21:42:12 – 00:21:43:15
Catherine Wreford
Get past my test.

00:21:43:16 – 00:21:58:11
Catherine Wreford
So I decided that I wanted to go back into performing, not just acting, performing, because that’s being in front of a live audience. That’s what you know, that was me. That’s me. I’ve always been that person. They’ve always done that.

00:21:58:11 – 00:22:04:18
Catherine Wreford
Back to you. Dancing naked in the living room from a very young.

00:22:04:18 – 00:22:22:17
Catherine Wreford
And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to show my kids that just because I have bring hasn’t it’s not going to stop me from dancing. And so I started stretching. I started doing workouts that would help me get back into my dancer shape. I started learning lines. I had an audition for The Producers, which was being done at Rainbow Stage.

00:22:22:17 – 00:22:24:24
Catherine Wreford
I knew 100 Rainbow Standards for our.

00:22:24:24 – 00:22:32:10
Philippa White
Listeners is in Winnipeg, and it’s an amazing open theater that I used to go to when I was little and you’d watch The Sound of Music.

00:22:32:10 – 00:22:35:21
Catherine Wreford
Or saw me. I saw you with The Sound of.

00:22:35:21 – 00:22:56:16
Catherine Wreford
Music, so I played Liesl and I could actually say I was 16 going on 17. It’s a beautiful theater and I totally knew I wasn’t going to get my hair at all falling out because of radiation. So I was completely bald. I was super skinny because I was going through radiation and I couldn’t really eat and my voice was raw because of the radiation, like killed my throat and I just needed to have something.

00:22:56:19 – 00:23:15:08
Catherine Wreford
So I learned the song and learned the lines. And because my short term memory is completely gone, I it was really hard for me, but I began my challenge was to go and audition. So I we were still in Oklahoma at the time. I flew to Winnipeg. So I went to this audition and nailed it. And I knew they couldn’t hire me because I was still in treatment.

00:23:15:08 – 00:23:36:16
Catherine Wreford
They couldn’t hire me. And I was like, I know you’re not gonna hire me. I need to do this. So I did it and I flew back to Oklahoma. That’s incredible. And then the next year there, I just I got my. Ms. and did that. Yeah. And every summer since then I’ve been doing that and I’ve done quite a few things with Rainbow Stage and with them at the concert hall I was Cassie and A Chorus Line and this was with MTC, it was Alison and Fun Home, which is the main part.

00:23:36:16 – 00:23:37:17
Catherine Wreford
And Elliot was.

00:23:38:04 – 00:23:40:05
Catherine Wreford
The boy in and it was.

00:23:40:08 – 00:23:40:14
Catherine Wreford
Elliot.

00:23:40:20 – 00:23:41:16
Philippa White
Katherine’s son.

00:23:41:17 – 00:23:43:08
Catherine Wreford
It was great that we could do that.

00:23:43:09 – 00:24:09:00
Philippa White
This is what I just think is so inspirational and a huge message for everyone. One put your mind to it and you can do it too. Life is hard and there’s challenges, but put your mind to it and use that as a way to just grow and be better and also be true to who you are. I often think that’s what saving your life is, that you are realizing who you are.

00:24:09:00 – 00:24:32:16
Catherine Wreford
Craig and I had never done a show together and the ballet called So I know Tara Birtwhistle. She called me to offer me Lady Capulet with Craig playing Lord Capulet in a ballet version of running and Juliet, and it would be the first time we were performing together. We are alumni of the Rock and Roll Winnipeg Ballet. So Craig flew to Winnipeg and we put on this wonderful show and at that time when he came, this was so much fun.

00:24:32:16 – 00:24:48:06
Catherine Wreford
How could we do this again? Well, maybe we should apply for Amazing Race Canada. We went to his hotel room, sat on his bed and set up the camera in front of us and filmed the super long video of us talking and bantering and telling our story and cut it up into little pieces and sent it in. We sent.

00:24:48:06 – 00:25:07:22
Catherine Wreford
Then it wouldn’t hear anything for eight, nine months. And then we got a phone call while I was doing Fun Home did it in February of 2019, and that November we got a phone call saying, We need you to come in for an interview. I later found out the two people that were interviewing us, like your son Jesse Story and they were one of them loves Broadway.

00:25:07:22 – 00:25:14:15
Catherine Wreford
So the fact that Craig and I had been on Broadway, but we were Canadian and I think really took him in and then they.

00:25:14:15 – 00:25:15:18
Catherine Wreford
Just end up loving it.

00:25:16:19 – 00:25:26:24
Catherine Wreford
He thought I looked familiar and when he went home, he looked through his he keeps all the playbills from every show he’s seen on Broadway. So he looked through and he’d seen me in 42nd Street.

00:25:26:24 – 00:25:29:05
Catherine Wreford
Oh, my gosh.

00:25:29:05 – 00:25:32:15
Catherine Wreford
When the race was over, he took a picture of it and sent it to me.

00:25:32:16 – 00:25:38:08
Philippa White
How funny. So you were on The Amazing Race and we can’t talk about it.

00:25:38:08 – 00:25:59:20
Catherine Wreford
Talk about and they’ve just done they just aired the fifth episode. So we won the third episode. So we won a trip to Bangkok and some Marshall Cards and all that great stuff. And then we got COVID. So we were out for two episodes, but now it has this coming back on the sixth episode and there’s 11 episodes all together.

00:25:59:20 – 00:26:32:16
Philippa White
You know, there’s some learnings, I think with all of this. I’ve got just some questions to kind of wrap up because we’re coming to the end. But there’s a few learnings that I just think, can someone who has done so much and through so much worked with so many incredible people, but also your best friend? I just think in knowing Ty and our listeners and this all comes to pushing through adverse situations determination, resilience, the power of purpose, believing in yourself, believing in what you’re working towards and making it happen and teamwork.

00:26:32:16 – 00:26:53:15
Philippa White
I just think The Amazing Race is such a perfect example of pretty intense situation. Yeah. Seeing some of the even just the things that you have to do, I keep thinking, oh my God. Like, I can’t even imagine how you hold it together and it’s intense and you have to kind of use your brain, you have to think and you have to respond and talking about teamwork, I just think, do you have some takeaways or just some thoughts on that?

00:26:53:15 – 00:27:03:05
Philippa White
And what have been some of the hardest times working together or some of the things that you had to work through and just the reality of working with Craig in such an intense situation. What could you tell our listeners?

00:27:03:05 – 00:27:22:13
Catherine Wreford
So Craig and I have never been in a fight we’ve disagreed on stuff we’ve never, ever put each other down in a way that anybody could think. We’re bringing each other down, going from there as a team, we complement each other. The stuff that I can’t do he’s really strong on and the stuff that he can do. I’m really strong.

00:27:22:16 – 00:27:27:13
Catherine Wreford
But we also it also is like we can. That was Craig sending me a message.

00:27:27:14 – 00:27:34:14
Catherine Wreford
That said, that’s just so funny, but you could tell I was talking about you. Can you live.

00:27:34:14 – 00:28:03:07
Catherine Wreford
Together in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles? We have such a strong bond that I didn’t think it could be made stronger, but it was a completely by this race. I could read his mind. So it was really super cool to be working with him and to be working with someone who like 100% trust. Just to be with someone who you trust so well is so great because it allows you to not worry about.

00:28:03:07 – 00:28:21:03
Philippa White
That, what you said. And I just want to highlight it. I think it’s just so important and it just comes down to leadership and teens is, you know, we talk a lot about diversity in the corporate world, diversity and inclusion. And that word of inclusion even comes from a point of view that sort of suggests that, okay, I will I’m in a powerful position.

00:28:21:06 – 00:28:49:17
Philippa White
I will include you poor person or vulnerable individual or whatever. And I think what’s really important is actually a diverse team of people with different skills is actually something that is so important. It’s not a you’re not doing anyone any favors. You actually are benefiting from having a diverse team of people that have different life experiences, have different skills, know what you’re good at so that you know who to hire because they need to be different to you.

00:28:50:04 – 00:28:57:10
Philippa White
And I think that’s what’s really fascinating just about what you’re saying is trust, empathy, love, support, but leaf.

00:28:57:16 – 00:29:11:09
Catherine Wreford
That’s the other thing, too. Like he always believed in me, the first episode when he had to climb that thing, he’s going to do it. I know he’s frickin terrified, but I know he will do it because he wants to do it for me. I never doubted that he couldn’t do it. He was shaking. He was so.

00:29:11:09 – 00:29:12:23
Philippa White
Scared. They managed to make.

00:29:13:02 – 00:29:22:23
Catherine Wreford
Some calls that was actually really funny and really great, but do it for Kathryn. Do it for Kathryn. He’s so cute. Yeah, but.

00:29:22:23 – 00:29:25:20
Catherine Wreford
It’s just if you’ve never tried anything, how do you know if you’re any good at it?

00:29:25:20 – 00:29:50:16
Philippa White
Exactly. You know, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, obviously dance partners. And they had a really intense working relationship. And Fred Astaire explained after they worked together, you know, robust arguments are critical to successful working relationships. But yet he also said we never quarreled. We argued about something which you do with anybody. You’re working with, especially when you’re doing a routine or dances or whatever.

00:29:51:03 – 00:30:10:07
Philippa White
But we never quarreled. And I thought, that’s really interesting because it does just remind me even of what you’ve actually just said about you and Craig. When you’re working with people, you can disagree. You don’t have to agree with anything, everything. And but I think it’s that mutual respect. It’s the admiration. And if you lose that, that’s when things start to crumble.

00:30:10:07 – 00:30:14:19
Philippa White
But if you keep that, then that’s how you can move forward. And I just wonder if you just have any thoughts on Craig.

00:30:14:19 – 00:30:39:08
Catherine Wreford
And I’ve always been that way and I will never lose respect or admiration for him. And I think he feels the same about me, just what we’ve seen each other go through in our lives. And I think that it is important, especially in a romantic relationship, you have to have that admiration, that respect for that person. And that’s what Joel and I have to I think the biggest things you have to respect that person.

00:30:39:14 – 00:30:48:04
Catherine Wreford
I was just having to say something else you said about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Ginger Rogers used to always say, I do what Fred Astaire does backwards and in heels.

00:30:48:04 – 00:30:48:12
Catherine Wreford
So.

00:30:49:10 – 00:30:54:07
Catherine Wreford
So so everybody talks about Fred Astaire, but that’s what Ginger Rogers said.

00:30:55:15 – 00:31:01:05
Philippa White
So, Catherine, is there anything that you’d like to tell our listeners that I haven’t asked you?

00:31:01:05 – 00:31:24:09
Catherine Wreford
Well, I have a favorite author, slash. She writes little poems, I guess more like quotes. And there’s one that I love is Brian Andre. And this is one of his quotes. They left me with your shadow saying things like, Life is not fair, and I believed them for a long time. But today I remembered the way you laughed and the heat of your hand in mine.

00:31:24:09 – 00:31:41:13
Catherine Wreford
And I knew that life is more fair than we ever imagined. If we are there to live it, that to me just means get out there and live it. If you want to be a part of life, you have to do it yourself. Yeah, I just feel like that’s a message to me personally.

00:31:42:03 – 00:31:43:08
Catherine Wreford
Even if you’re not.

00:31:43:09 – 00:31:45:01
Catherine Wreford
Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel.

00:31:45:03 – 00:31:56:12
Philippa White
Yeah, yeah. That’s really beautiful and it’s such a great way to end this. Catherine It has been so, so nice. It’s been really amazing just to connect because obviously I live in Brazil and you’re in Winnipeg.

00:31:56:12 – 00:31:58:23
Catherine Wreford
And yeah, well, let’s have a wine date with our kids.

00:31:59:01 – 00:31:59:20
Philippa White
Let’s have a wine day.

00:32:00:11 – 00:32:02:06
Catherine Wreford
Yeah. We’re going to say that.

00:32:02:15 – 00:32:03:12
Philippa White
I love you.

00:32:03:16 – 00:32:06:14
Catherine Wreford
So much and have a.

00:32:06:14 – 00:32:11:01
Philippa White
Good dance at the Rainbow stage. Thank you. Rehearsal or whatever you call it.

00:32:11:01 – 00:32:13:12
Catherine Wreford
This. Yes, tech. Tech night tonight.

00:32:13:15 – 00:32:16:05
Philippa White
Fun. Yeah. Very different to what I’m doing today.

00:32:16:13 – 00:32:22:20
Catherine Wreford
So I will have fun out there. Lots and lots and lots. Yeah, you.

00:32:22:20 – 00:32:24:03
Catherine Wreford
Too. I love you so much.

00:32:24:10 – 00:32:24:23
Philippa White
Love you.

00:32:24:23 – 00:32:25:14
Catherine Wreford
Bye.

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