Local man paddling 4,000 miles for cancer awareness

Kris Laurie

LE ROY, N.Y. (WIVB)- Leslie Laurie-Nicoll checked in with her son over the phone Friday morning; he’s somewhere on the Missouri River.

“So how’s it going, where did you get to last night?” she asked.

Her son, Kris Laurie, assured her he’s had enough to eat and that he’s keeping an eye on the forecast; he told her he’s about 10 miles downstream from Omaha, Neb.

Canoeing was something they used to do together.

“My mother and I did a 90 mile paddle trip in Alaska, which was a really good experience for her in 2014. And right after, right after that trip, she was diagnosed with bladder cancer,” Kris said.

Kris Laurie with his mom, Leslie.
Kris Laurie with his mom, Leslie.

For Leslie, who’s a school teacher in Le Roy, it felt like a death sentence.

“I didn’t think I would be alive at Christmas to be honest with you, last Christmas. So Kris decided that he would try to keep me going through having something to look forward to,” Leslie told News 4.

Kris left his job, and has been on the river since May.

After surgery, chemo, and four clean scans, Leslie was able to do a small part of the journey with him, but he’s finishing the nearly 4,000 mile trip on his own.

Aside from encouraging his mom, and keeping her positive, Kris is raising money for bladder cancer along the way.

Leslie smiled when we asked if Kris had accomplished his goal, of keeping her spirits up.

“I’d say he did.”

She remembers when her cancer took away part of her hope, when something as simple as buying a coffee table didn’t make sense.

“After I bought it I had this like little mini… not a panic attack, but I thought what am I doing? Why would I just have spent $95 to buy this table when I don’t know if I’m even going to be alive?”

Her most recent purchase was a brand new canoe.

Proof that her next trip is right around the corner.

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