By Mark Dreger
Lisa Strong was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, but thanks to cancer research and trials, she survived and attended her third Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure Sunday in Kelowna’s City Park.
“It’s amazing,” she said, looking through tears at the hundreds of attendees wearing pink shirts. “I’m just amazed how many people are out here, I don’t know, I don’t even know what to say.”
One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime in Canada. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 14 Canadian women on average die of breast cancer every day, representing 13 per cent of the total cancer deaths in women.
“I found out in 2014 and I went through chemo and radiation,” Strong said. “I didn’t realize there were so many different types of breast cancer; that it would make me feel so overwhelmed and so horrible, but every day I got up and I walked the dog. Even when I didn’t feel like going I got up and I left the house and I did as much as I could when I could, but it just takes so much out of you and you don’t even realize it.”
“I lost a friend to cancer when she was 28-years-old,” said Deina Albrecht, volunteer run director for the event, “so I made a promise to her to find a cure. And I’m not a researcher myself so this is what I can do.”
About 1,000 people participated in Kelowna’s run to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research and to honor the survivors, who received light pink shirts for the event.
“It is super important and I am always impressed by seeing all the people, especially the survivors; hearing their stories is fantastic,” Albrecht said.
If it hadn’t been for the donations for cancer research and finding a cure, women like Lisa Strong would not be here today.
“The kind of cancer I had, say seven years prior to this, never had a cure,” she said. “Now because of raising money and trials, they have a cure for it, so I survived. It’s just amazing that all the support, all the money that comes in is actually curing cancer, and not just breast cancer.”
Mortality rates for breast cancer are 44 per cent lower than their peak in the mid 1980’s and approximately 87 per cent of people diagnosed with breast cancer are expected to live five years beyond their diagnoses.
“We’re all Wonder Women,” Strong said, responding to Wonder Woman being this year’s theme for the run. “I’m going to say a lot of the chemo nurses are all Wonder Women. They go through a lot to help us. The men and women, they’re all Wonder Women. It’s amazing. They are amazing.”
In 2016 the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kelowna raised over $116,000 and saw over 900 people participate. Organizers are expecting about the same for this year.
More than 80,000 Canadians were expected to join forces for the 26th annual Run for the Cure. The event takes place in 56 locations from coast to coast and is the largest, single-day, volunteer-led event dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research, support services, health education, and advocacy programs.
The first CIBC Run for the Cure took place in 1992 in Toronto’s High Park where a group of volunteers brought together approximately 1,500 people and raised $85,000 for the breast cancer cause. Last year, events across Canada raised $17 million towards cancer research with team CIBI alone raising $3 million nationally.