On Sunday, October 6, 2019 all across Canada, more than 80,000 people ran or walked in the CIBC Run for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer research. It was a particularly special day for me as I proudly watched our Trafalgar Castle students receive the Volunteer Award for their more than 10 years of participation at the Oshawa event. This year was also special because I was asked to deliver the Survivor’s Speech at the opening ceremonies. It was a true honour and I felt humbled by the sea of people spread out before me who came together to support one another.
For this week’s blog, I would like to share my speech delivered at the Oshawa CIBC Run for the Cure. I hope its words offer hope to the many women, their families and friends who are touched by this disease.
It was August 2015 and I was on top of the world. I’d just started my dream job as Head of Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby. My daughter, husband and I had packed up our house and our dogs to move from Toronto, ready to begin our new adventure. Life was amazing with a new job, new town and new challenges ahead.
Three months later I found myself sitting across from a doctor hearing the words that every woman dreads: “You have breast cancer.”
To say I was in shock would be an understatement. I’d had my annual mammogram in February and everything had been fine. I exercised regularly, ate well and took good care of myself. There was no cancer in my family. And yet, I’d heard those words: “You have cancer.”
The next two weeks were a blur. Biopsies, bone scans, MRIs, blood work. After that came surgery followed by dreaded chemo. Radiation after that. Throughout it all there was fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty and tears. But above all, there was hope.
Hope sustained me. It got me out of bed every morning and calmed my racing mind during long sleepless nights. Hope sat in the chair beside me as I waited for test results, and hope held my hand as I held my breath. And it was hope that shared my relief every time I heard the words, “It’s all good. I’ll see you again in six months.”
We are here today because we share in this thing called hope. We hold out hope during treatment. Hope for remission. Hope for recovery. Some simply hope for more time with family and friends. And for those of you here today who are honouring loved ones lost, I know you share hope for a cure.
It is because of events like CIBC Run for the Cure that research is possible – research that continues to discover new and groundbreaking treatments that will allow more women to hear the words, “It’s all good.” I, like other women here today, am a beneficiary of such research. I know that less than 20 years ago my prognosis would not have been as bright but because of advances in drug therapy, my future is looking sunny. Last year, I participated in a trial for a new drug that was approved just this past summer by Health Canada. So we know that research is making a difference for many of us here today. And research will make a difference for many others tomorrow.
To each of you going through treatment or living with cancer, to every survivor and every family member, to everyone walking in memory of a mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, niece or friend, thank you for keeping hope alive.
Thank you for being here today.