In June 2013, Catherine Wreford Ledlow received life-altering news. She had terminal brain cancer, and doctors told her she had two to six years to live.
But the Winnipeg dancer, actor and singer has beaten those odds — she’s nine years out from her diagnosis and counting — and has made a point to live life to the fullest. And now, in what could be considered the ultimate act of carpe diem, she’ll be competing in the forthcoming season of The Amazing Race Canada alongside her best friend of 25 years, fellow actor and Broadway performer Craig Ramsay.
Both are thrilled they no longer have to keep their involvement in the reality show a secret, and although they still have to keep mum about specifics of the competition itself — no spoilers here — they’re still talking to each other, which is a good sign.
Wreford Ledlow, 42, and Ramsay, 45, have been through a lot together in their quarter-century friendship, which began in the studios of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, where they instantly bonded over their love of musical theatre. (Wreford Ledlow appeared in 42nd Street on Broadway, while Ramsay starred in Fiddler on the Roof and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang among other credits.)
It was Ramsay who urged Wreford Ledlow to call her doctor nine years ago, and it was also his idea for the pair to apply for The Amazing Race Canada as a team.
In 2019, the duo were invited back to where it all began to play Lord and Lady Capulet in a Royal Winnipeg Ballet production of Romeo & Juliet.
"We sort of reconnected after that," Wreford Ledlow says. "We’d never performed together before, and then once we did, we’re like, ‘We need to do this again.’"
They shot their application video over two years ago. "We wanted to simply showcase our friendship, our authentic friendship, which is hilarious," Ramsay says. "We have such a good time together and such a great and unique dynamic that we definitely shared that in our initial video, which obviously got the attention of producers."
They were officially cast in Season 8 of The Amazing Race Canada in early 2020 — and then the pandemic had other plans. While the delay was no doubt disappointing for the other teams, it was terrifying for Catherine and Craig.
"I didn’t know if I would live this long to be a part of it," Wreford Ledlow says. "But I had an MRI right before I left and one when I got back and it was all stable, so that was great."
During the race itself, which was finally filmed this spring, Wreford Ledlow said she felt great. "There was no moment of worry about it," she says.
There’s a pause on the line. "Oh, that’s not true," Ramsay says.
"It’s not the elephant in the room: Catherine has terminal brain cancer and there’s so many obstacles that come with that. But in Catherine’s nine years with this, she is a warrior, and she overcomes everything that’s thrown at her.
"This was the ultimate test and it does have its worries — for Catherine, and for me, as someone who loves her dearly. She’s such a positive person that everything’s always terrific, and I love that about her. But us being (race) partners, and why I feel I am the appropriate partner, is because our friendship is so strong that I can point out things that I know Catherine needs to address and overcome." (It helps, too, that they are performers who are used to receiving notes.)
While a show in which people must complete stressful, physically demanding challenges can certainly put a friendship through its paces, Wreford Ledlow says being on the show actually brought them closer — especially since their friendship is usually long distance, with her in Winnipeg and him in Palm Springs, Calif.
"We were close before, but this race has brought us to a completely different level of connectedness," she says. "We didn’t have phones, we didn’t have anything. We connected mentally — even without me saying anything, he knew what I was thinking and I knew what he was thinking. Our spirits kind of bonded together during this whole race."
"We didn’t want to destroy our friendship, and the race has done that to people," Ramsay says. "So, there’s that worry as well."
"I was never worried about that, Craig," Wreford Ledlow responds with a laugh.
Season 8 of The Amazing Race Canada debuts on July 5 on CTV.