One local breast cancer survivor is urging young women to be aware of their bodies and to pay attention to any changes as early detection of the disease is key. She is also encouraging Central Albertans to participate in an upcoming fundraiser for breast cancer research.
The 12th annual CIBC Run for the Cure takes place Sept. 30th at Lindsay Thurber High School. The event, which includes a 5km walk or run, begins with registration at 8 a.m. and the opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. followed by a warm-up. The walk or run starts at 10 a.m.
Jamie Hykawy, 34, will be a participant in the event and faced an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2010. She is also the captain of Jamie’s Fight Club, one of the highest fundraising teams in the CIBC Run for the Cure in Red Deer.
“It actually started in 2006 when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had no history of breast cancer anywhere in our family, so it was kind of a shock. When she was diagnosed they found that she had a type of cancer that couldn’t be a sporadic type of cancer so they tested her and did some genetic testing as well. They found she had the BRAC1 genetic mutation which makes her more susceptible to breast cancer. She did her treatment and came through fine and that was great,” she said. “I kind of avoided finding out because I didn’t want to know. I was doing everything I was supposed to do – having my mammograms, having MRI’s and doing my self-exams and four years later, at the age of 32, I found my own lump doing a self-exam.”
After her diagnosis, Hykawy underwent chemotherapy and radiation. She also had a double mastectomy and recently underwent a hysterectomy as well to avoid any further possible cancers.
“It’s been a crazy two years but things are good now. I’m very happy and healthy and I am glad I am able to share my story.”
Hykawy stresses that early detection is the key, especially for young women.
“The faster these cancers are found and treated, the better the prognosis is in the end. It’s not just your mom’s disease anymore. I always hear from people comments about how young I am. And yes I am, but in my journey I have met so many young women that are going through it as well. There is no age limit for breast cancer and it’s very important to start those self-exams early and to get to know your body and know what doesn’t feel right. Also, don’t be afraid to tell your doctors that you think something is wrong. Being an advocate for your health is so important.”
Hykawy said the CIBC Run for a Cure is not only close to her heart, but it raises much-needed funds to support breast cancer research and she hopes people will come out and support the event.
“The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is so on-point with research and boosting awareness for early detection. When you hear the words ‘You have cancer’, you think it’s a death sentence and it’s not. There’s so much stuff being done with different treatments and early detection that it’s not making it as scary anymore.”
This is the third year that Hykawy has participated in the event. The first year her team raised over $17,000 and about $9,000 last year. They are hoping to raise between $10,000 and $15,000 this year.
Since 1992, the annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure has been the largest single-day, volunteer-led national event in support of creating a future without breast cancer. In 2011, close to 170,000 participants raised over $30 million to fund innovative breast cancer research, education and awareness programs.
Lois Moreau, co-run director of the event in Red Deer said there is still room for teams to sign up and of course they continue to look for volunteers.
“You can register and bring your registration right up until run day. It’s never too late. We have people raising money now who will bring it on the morning of the run,” she said, adding they are about 12% ahead of what they were last year in terms of teams and participants and money raised so far. “Last year we had about 900 participants and the year before we had about 1,200. So it varies from year to year, but we are hoping to have people come out.”
Since the run began in Red Deer in 2001, Moreau said they are just short of raising $2 million since its inception.
“We want to exceed that by a long shot and we are so close to reaching that $2 million mark.”
Devan Bell, CIBC district vice-president for Alberta Central, said the financial institution gets behind this event because of how far-reaching breast cancer is.
“It is the event that CIBC really throws its weight behind. It is our most important fundraiser of the year and it’s been something we’ve been doing for 15 years,” he said. “This disease affects so many of us. It’s affects our colleagues, our clients and our loved ones. It’s not discriminatory – young or old. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected by this disease. This event is for a fantastic cause.”
For more information visit www.cbcf.org.