In June, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation launched the 2011 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for Cure campaign in Edmonton at the Muttart Conservatory. The Muttart Conservatory is an iconic landmark in Edmonton featuring four tall glass pyramids where flowers and exotic plants bloom year round. This year Bob Dixon, an employee at the Muttart, has designed this summer’s feature pyramid “Pretty in Pink: Who are you thinking of?” after thinking about his own sister’s struggle with breast cancer.
My name is Amanda and I am the Community Relations Coordinator for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation BC/Yukon Region and I think I have the best job in the world. When I was a little girl I always wanted a pink bus like Barbie’s. You should see what I traveled in all over B.C. this summer – the best pink bus I could have asked for. But my bus is better than Barbie’s. “My” bus is going to save lives. Since losing my mother to breast cancer when I was 16 (she was just 43) I have been dedicated to doing something so I wouldn’t feel powerless against this disease. Now, as a mother myself, I work even harder to do everything I can so that my children never know what it is like to lose their mother to breast cancer.
The Pink Tour is a province-wide initiative to share breast health awareness and to let women know the importance of screening mammography. Only 51 per cent of eligible women go for their free screening mammogram and we are trying to increase that number. Sounds simple, right? Straight forward? Well, what I have experienced this summer is anything but. What it actually has been is the most amazing, empowering and life-changing experience ever. I have seen people’s triumphs, scars, smiles and fears. I have felt their sadness, their successes, their loss and their hope. More than anything I have felt their gratitude. The words I hear most often are “thank you.” I have held a woman’s hand who was so terrified of what could happen that she could barely step onto the bus. We shared our information with her and even signed her up for a mammogram. She left feeling empowered and knowledgeable. I have hugged an entire family whose mother’s mastectomy is just days away. And, I have seen younger women taking in information about how to care for their breast health now, and learning about the importance of early detection. It is an amazing thing that usually starts with a handshake and ends with a hug. I am in awe at the end of each day, truly inspired by what I experience each and every day. The Pink Tour is making a difference in people’s lives and I see it every day. At the end of the Tour we had 15, 831 visitors onboard and signed up 803 women for their screening mammograms.
There is so much power behind the Foundation logo, that complete strangers reach out to me and share their stories and their hope. I could not be more proud to do what I do and to work with the people that I do. I believe strongly in what we are doing and now it is not simply because of the great researchers I meet or the amazing fundraising we do but it is also because of all of you. You, who have shared your stories and allowed me to share mine. You remind me how far we have come, while at the same time reminding me that there is still work to be done. I thank you so much for that and I hope my mom can see this big pink bus from where she is.
In June 2010 I was told that I had breast cancer. It was such a shock to myself, family and friends. But in a couple of days, the shock and sadness wore off and love set in on a massive level.
My operation was done by mid-June, and they were able to save my breast — I feel so very blessed. During that time I had such huge support from doctors, nurses, social workers, and big-time from my family, friends and my church. I had never seen or felt so much love before. Even strangers were calling me and popping up on Facebook to talk to me, wanting to help … I was overwhelmed by all the love and comfort. The word “cancer” had no strength anymore as the love overpowered everything.
One day my sister sent me an email before the operation with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure link; I clicked and joined right away. With this goal in my head, being a team leader and having all this love surrounding me, it was impossible not to get through all this in a very positive way. I was and still am so grateful to my sister Catherine Graham for sending me the link for the Run for the Cure!! It just so happened that the walk was held on Oct. 3, 2010, my birthday. I felt like I was living a dream. The picture I have included with this letter is my sister putting a “Happy Birthday” pin on me at the run; she wanted everyone to know it was an extra special day for me. She did so much to help me through it all, and I love her so. On Oct. 3, we walked on a beautiful day. I was with 15 of my special friends and it was my 45th birthday; I believed that I would be cured of cancer and still do.
My powerhouse team raised funds over $5,200 the first year, and I’m so very proud of them. Our team is called the Bosom Buddies and this year I think we just might go from 16 people to 30 – it’s so thrilling.
I plan on walking every year and for the team to keep on growing.
Thank you for giving me the chance to walk and give back some of what I was given. Because of what so many do to help find the cure I get to still live and love.
I go for my first mammogram since it all began in July and I expect to see that I am still free of cancer.
With deep gratitude,
I met Danielle at the CIBC Run for the Cure Oct. 4, 2009.
This was the email I sent to all our friends the following day. This was our story from Oct. 3, 2010:
Yesterday was the Run for the Cure. In addition to running five kilometres, at the finish line, I proposed to Danielle. She was winded with decreased levels of consciousness. Still irrational from the heat of running, she said yes.
After running seamlessly for five kilometres (I could have run 42 kilometres ), we came to the finish line. There were hundreds of people near the finish line.
People were all gathering and not filtering properly; it was hard to find the man (a work colleague) who had all the “items” I needed to properly execute this proposal. While looking for him, I lost Danielle in the crowd. I soon managed to find my friend and get the ring from him. Now I had to find Danielle.
Rolanda Chen tells us why she’s serving up delicious dishes for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Cook for the Cure program.
This October, I hosted my fourth Cook for the Cure party – an annual event that my girlfriends and I look forward to.
I’m very lucky to have a group of smart, funny, generous and supportive women to call my best friends. We’re lucky that none of us has had to personally battle breast cancer, but we’ve all been directly affected by the disease, through family, friends and coworkers who have not been as fortunate. And we know that, statistically speaking, one of us may one day be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Cook for the Cure allows my girlfriends and me to support an important cause, and have a great time doing it. We were able to raise $600 this year!
Think about how much a typical meal out with your best friends would cost, and think about how much money you could raise if you donated the cost of that meal, towards a Cook for the Cure dinner, instead. It’s not difficult to throw a Cook for the Cure party and the folks at the Foundation are wonderful in offering their support. We’d like to encourage other groups of girlfriends to get your girls together to do something good “for the girls”!
You can help create a future without breast cancer.
We also wanted to share the following details with you about Rolanda’s event: