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Senator Nancy Greene Raine fighting cancer

FILE PHOTO - Senator Nancy Greene Raine skies around the front lawn of the Parliament buildings during an event promoting the National Health and Fitness day in Ottawa on February 24, 2016. Greene Raine, Canada's most decorated ski racer, is undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
April 13, 2017 - 8:44 AM

SUN PEAKS - One of the region’s most recognizable athletes and politicians is fighting cancer.

Senator Nancy Greene Raine, 73, is in Kelowna today, April 13, to have her thyroid removed as part of her battle against thyroid cancer, according to a Sun Peaks Resort press release. Following the surgery she’ll spend a couple weeks recovering before more treatment begins.

Nicknamed "Tiger" because of her speed and aggressive turns, Greene Raine dominated women's skiing for two years. She won Olympic gold and silver in 1968 as well as overall World Cup titles in 1967 and 1968.

Greene Raine won the giant slalom at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, by a blistering margin of 2.68 seconds. She also won silver in slalom and finished 10th in downhill after overcoming an ankle injury a month out from the Games that threatened to derail her medal chances.

She finished her World Cup career with 13 victories over a two-year span before retiring in 1968 at age 24.

Greene Raine blazed a trail for other top women skiers in Canada, with 1992 Olympic downhill champion Kerrin Lee-Gartner calling her a big influence.

A provincial park, lake and mountain summit near Rossland, B.C., where Greene Raine was raised, all bear her name.

While she is an active Senator, she’s taking time away from the position to focus on treatment and recovery and plans on returning afterwards. Greene Rain is also the director of skiing at Sun Peaks Resort.

She and her husband, Sun Peaks mayor Al Raine, are hopeful about the treatment saying thyroid cancer is a relatively treatable form of cancer.

Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the neck that produces the hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

It's not known what form of thyroid cancer Greene Raine has, but there are several types. The most common is papillary thyroid cancer, which arises in the cells that produce and store thyroid hormones. Papillary thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but most often affects people aged 30 to 50.

In most cases, treatment involves full removal of the thyroid, often followed by a dose of radioactive iodine to destroy any residual thyroid cells to prevent recurrence of the cancer. Patients must take life-long daily doses of a medication to replace the hormones normally produced by the gland.

Each year, an estimated 6,800 Canadians are diagnosed with various forms of thyroid cancer and about 200 die from the disease, which is roughly three times more common in women than men, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Overall, thyroid cancer has an average 98 per cent five-year survival rate.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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