TRENTON – A sea of pink flooded Trenton Park on Sunday for the fourth annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Pictou County.
The event surpassed last year’s total of funds raised by more than $2,000 with a total of $37,029.91 raised by the 285 participants, which were also up from last year’s event.
Caroline Linehan, communications and promotions co-ordinator, was very pleased given a week prior to the event they were up 55 per cent in terms of money collected prior to the walk compared to the previous year.
Throughout Canada, the run raised $21.5 million last year alone in more than 60 cities.
Tara Proudfoot, branch manager of CIBC New Glasgow, noted that one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
“We’ve accomplished so much, but it’s clear we are not done yet,” she said.
Jim Stewart lost his wife Emma Lee Stewart to metastatic breast cancer.
“In all honesty,” he said, “I wish I didn’t have to be here and that none of you have to be here and that this horrible disease didn’t exist.”
He reminded people that everything you do, no matter how big or small it may seem, does make a difference.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the day was the realization that cancer affects everyone.
Jessica Dunphy seemed out of place as she walked with the survivors down the pink carpet to the stage.
Although nervous of speaking in front of people, she strode to the microphone.
“Lately I’ve been facing a lot of my fears,” she started. “As terrifying as it is standing here today, it’s for a reason. We all have a reason … we have all been touched in one way by cancer.”
Dunphy went on to explain her grandmother passed away from cancer before she was born. Through the years she has taken part in the Relay for Life in memory of her grandmother and was planning to take part in the CIBC Run for the Cure for the first time in her memory.
“I joined the team with the intention of running in the name of my grandmother,” she said. “In August, at the tender age of 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
She spoke of the importance of self advocacy.
“In May, I came home from a day of teaching my munchkins and I was very tired, more so than usual and very sore. I began massaging my shoulders and felt a lump in my breast.”
Like many women, she was concerned but let it go for a few weeks.
“I eventually went to my family doctor and he sent me home, saying it was most likely a cyst and would take care of itself. At the end of the school year it was not going away and I was very sore so I went to my doctor again and asked that it be removed.”
She was told that the lump felt less than two centimetres in length, which is the operating criteria, and that it was likely a fibroadenomas, a tumor formed of mixed fibrous and glandular tissue, typically occurring as a benign growth in the breast, and that it would not be removed.
Dunphy continued to push for its removal and eventually got a referral to a surgeon.
“A few weeks later I had the surgery to remove it and I was so happy, I thought I was in the clear. But one week later my doctor contacted me about something that was concerning him. They had sent a biopsy away to be test and it was in fact an invasive cancer tumor. I remained calm, it was almost surreal. I had always been healthy, made healthy choices but it didn’t matter. From then on cancer was a part of my life.”
Dunphy recalled her surgeon and doctor suggesting she have both breasts removed.
“I began bargaining, I was 27, please don’t take both of my breasts. This was not part of the plan. Why? What did I do to cause this? And I realized nothing at all. Cancer does not discriminate. Cancer took my opportunity (to meet my grandmother) away from me and now my breast.”
Because of her grandmother and the strength, compassion and courage she knew she had, Dunphy decided to have her breasts removed.
“I decided never to give cancer the opportunity to define me. I am two and a half weeks post-op and I know who I am today more than ever before. Today I stand here as a cancer survivor.”
From the left: Liam Russell, Maria Driscoll, Morgan Hynes, Avery Gill and Rylea Whelan get ready for the run. (Harvie photos)