This morning I participated in the 22nd Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. I don’t remember the first year I participated, but it’s been at least 8-9 years (if not more). Because of my knees I cannot do the run, so instead I walk the 5k (with so many others).
As you can see in the picture above I have a pink ribbon sweatband that I wear for the event, and I also have some matching wristbands too. I made the beaded hand thingies (I don’t know what you call those) because my mom had a few of those and really liked them, so I made some pink ones that I wear every year for the event.
And of course I did my nails in pink (see more pictures).
It was a bit chilly this morning at around 9°C (48F), and there was a very light rain spitting on us, but nothing that required an umbrella. They close one of the parkways in the city for this walk. I usually get a picture where both sides of the parkway are full of participants, but they changed the location start and it affected the flow of the walk. You can still tell that we have a good participation here.
This is a cause that is very dear to me because 3 years ago I lost my mother to metastatic breast cancer. This was her second battle with the disease.
My mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, she was 46. I don’t remember much about that time. The only memory I have is one night at dinner she left the table crying and when I asked my father why, he said it was because of the lump on her chest. I didn’t understand what it meant.
My mother went for a mastectomy and was fine after that. She didn’t even need chemotherapy or radiation, the cancer was just gone.
Then in the fall of 2007 she felt some lumps in her neck so she went for some tests and the horrible disease was back. She was 64. This time the cancer had metastasized and spread to her lungs, liver and bones. In case you don’t know what “metastasized” means (I didn’t before my mom got it), it means the spread of a cancer from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part (source). At this point there is no cure. The cancer could go into remission, but she would never be cancer free again.
My mother started treatments in late fall/early winter 2007, and never stopped until it took her away in September 2010.
My husband and I got our new house in April 2010 and my mother came to visit us that June. Unfortunately my father could not come at that time because my parents owned a bowling alley and my father had to stay home to manage it (it’s now sold). This next picture was taken during my mother’s visit and it’s one of my favourite pictures of us (that’s my brother). I just wish my father was in it too. (My brother and I moved away from home after college and we both live in the same city.)
Can you believe this was taken only 10 weeks before she passed? At the end the cancer spread to her brain and things quickly went downhill from there. Seeing my mother in the hospital those last few days are my most painful memories.
My maternal grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer, she was in her late 80s at the time. She has since passed away, but from a different disease. And one of my mother’s sisters was also diagnosed in her early 60s. She’s currently cancer free (yeah!). I have another aunt (through marriage) that had 2 mastectomies and she is also cancer free (another yeah!).
So, that brings us to me. Given my family history I went to a genetics clinic to see if I qualified for gene testing (remember that Angelina Jolie thing earlier this year?). In order to qualify for [free] genetic testing, in Ontario at least, you need to have had breast or ovarian cancer yourself or have someone in your family that’s been tested and was found to have one of the 2 genes that are known to be related to those cancers. That is not the case for me so I don’t qualify. My aunt is looking into getting tested though. If she is found to be carrying either of the genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2) then I will qualify for the testing.
That being said, because of my family history my chances of getting breast cancer (based on statistics) are just over 26%, which qualifies me for the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) Screening for Women at High Risk. It consists of a mammogram and MRI yearly (in my case) and I started this summer. First results were clear, yay! 🙂
Just as FYI, in Ontario if you qualify for gene testing and you are found to have one of the 2 genes known to be related to breast cancer, health care and insurance pay for both your test and a double mastectomy (with breast implants). If you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family find out what’s available in your area.
Sorry for the long post, but when it comes to breast cancer I just can’t help myself. It has visited my family too many times and there is nothing that would please me more than to see a cure for it.
Thank you for reading.
– Chantal 🙂