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Archive for the ‘My Breast Cancer Story’ Category

Marc Guay – What’s my Breast Cancer Story?

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Marc GuayMarc Guay sits on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada board of directors, we recently asked him what his cancer story is. This is the story he told us, this is Marc Guay’s cancer story.

It never really occurred to me that it would happen. And happen. And happen.

The first time was twelve years ago when I lost my beautiful sister-in-law, Kim. She was 38 at the time and the shock sent ripples of absolute devastation through our family.

Soon after, I lost my dear friend and colleague, Teri, to the disease as well. She was also 38—an equally devastating tragedy. And if that wasn’t enough—both my mother and another close colleague, Anne-Marie, were both diagnosed and are survivors of breast cancer—an absolute blessing. And it was these two positive outcomes that made me realize that there is hope and that there is a lot I can do to help.

Today, you will not likely find a single person who hasn’t been touched by the disease. In fact, in Canada, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and one in 30 Canadian women will unfortunately die from it—startling statistics wouldn’t you agree?

It is for this reason that my family’s mission is to actively support, raise awareness for and donate time and money to help fight it. Advances in medicine today are improving survival rates dramatically, and I strongly believe that both Kim and Teri would still be with us today if science, then, was what it is today. If we can save one mother, one wife, one daughter, sister, family member, friend and colleague, then it’s a fight worth pursuing.

Throughout my career, I have been in positions where I’ve engaged people in initiatives, projects and programs, developed to further the business objectives of my organization. I then decided that I wanted to use those skills to do the same for important causes, such as breast cancer. Having been touched by the disease so many times, I have and continue to be actively involved in the cause—taking part in Walk for Breast Cancer among other things—as well as being actively involved in raising funds to further breast cancer research.

Marc and Kim dancing on the dock at the cottage before she succumbed to the breast cancer.

Marc and Kim dancing on the dock
at the cottage before she succumbed
to the breast cancer.

Today—a retired business executive—I am dedicating a large portion of my time to breast
cancer research, which is why I am now serving on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada board of directors and am chairing its Fund Development Committee. Joining BCSC is very important as it allows me to make a difference and, of course, honour Kim and Teri—whose lives were taken too soon. Simply, breast cancer steals lives and I want that to end.

There is hope. And we can do this. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Like Marc Guay start making a difference today give to life-saving breast research. Learn more about ways you can give on bcsc.ca/donate

Pizza for Research

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Ethan Williams is six years old  and a breast cancer fundraising hero.The questions!  Oh, the many questions of a six year old.  As a breast cancer researcher with a young child I get the usual barrage of questions about life but with a few tricky additions like “why do people get cancer” and “what is cancer”.  For me, these are just questions to try understand my work, a fact that I am very thankful for. I often find myself having elaborate conversations with my son about my research.  His interest in research stems from the innocence of curiosity and is driven by the fascination of how the body works.  Children always have a unique perspective and it’s neat to see this applied to cancer research. He often comes up with ideas that he gets really excited about, such as “Mom, why don’t we train immune cells to attack the cancer cells like they attack bacteria” or the after-bedtime inquiry “what if we broke the parts of the cancer cells that let them move”?

After all the talks about my work and getting happily brought along to various walks-for-cancer he decided that he wanted to do his own fundraiser for breast cancer research. While a walk or run wasn’t an easy event to organize for his kindergarten class, he went for the next best thing: a pizza fundraiser. Let’s be honest, kids probably like pizza more than a 5km walk or run. I should also mention that he insisted on homemade pizza as “it’s healthier and that’s important”. When I asked him why this was important to him he told me that “when I first went on the breast cancer walk/run (the Breast Cancer Society of Canada Mother’s Day walk, a family tradition for 3 years now) I really liked it, I liked that people were raising money for breast cancer.  I wanted to do more to help so I raised money for breast cancer with my class”. He then continued on “because I know some people out there needed it and I really wanted to help people who have breast cancer and with more money we can do more research and know more about cancer and then we can fix it”.   He truly believes in the power of research and seems to really understand that through research we make new discoveries we can actually help people live better lives.

When the big day arrived, we baked a bunch of pizzas unusually early in the day and delivered them to some very eager kids. I was just hoping everyone would have fun and learn something, but when all was said and done, it turns out they also raised a lot more than we expected. If some kindergarten kids can bring together a fundraiser on a random Thursday, I think it proves any of us can do something towards an important cause that touches so many lives.
Karla Williams

Become a breast cancer fundraising hero like Ethan, make a donation to life-saving breast cancer research today: bcsc.ca/donate


Karla Williams
is a postdoctoral fellow who has published several papers on invadopodia in cancer cells.  Ethan Williams is six years old, he attends kindergarten, helps his mom (Karla) make pizza and is a breast cancer fundraising hero!

Shelley Warner: My cancer story, is not a death sentence

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We would like you to meet Shelley Warner. Over the next month’s Shelley will be sharing a window in to her cancer story with us. As an introduction to her story, Shelley brings us up to her present days with a little bit of the beginnings to her cancer story.

Shelley Warner, my cancer story:
Breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence

In June of 2015 at the age of 46 I faced every woman’s worst fear and found a lump in my breast. At that point I had lived in the Mississauga area for 8 years and had always struggled to find a family doctor. I got up the next morning and called 9 doctors who all refused to see me. I explained my situation and still they refused. Call number 10 resulted in success. A doctor examined me and sent me for an ultra sound and mammogram. A week later the clinic called and requested I come back for a biopsy. The biopsy indeed confirmed I had breast cancer. The day following my diagnosis I met with my surgeon and was scheduled for surgery 10 days later where I had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed. The week following surgery I was sent for a CT and bone scan which is standard for all breast cancer patients. The following week I met with my oncologist for what I thought would be a routine appointment to obtain my schedule for chemotherapy. By this time my doctor had my scan results and he revealed to me that my cancer was Triple Negative metastatic breast cancer, very aggressive, and had already spread to my liver, lung and spine.

Shelley Warner, My cancer story

My oncologist proceeded to tell me that there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. I remained very calm surprisingly and I looked up at my oncologist and said ok what are we going to do next? How are you going to treat me because I refuse to lie down and die! He told me we can do chemo but it will only shrink the cancer not cure me. I said surely shrinkage is better than letting it grow. Let’s start the chemo tomorrow I said! I looked my doctor straight in the face and I told him to please start telling me what he can do as opposed to what he cannot. With that he referred to his colleagues in the field and came back to me with a plan. I had 6 rounds of chemo every 3 weeks between September 2015 and January 2016. At the end of January, I had a CT scan and all the cancer was clear from my liver, lung and spine. My doctor said I was a miracle to be in remission. I continued to have scans every 3 months and each one clear until August 2016. I then began to suffer from a great deal of back pain in which a bone scan revealed the cancer was back in my bone. My lung and liver are still clear. I had just got to the point where I had a full head of hair again and back I went for 3 more rounds of chemo! I am now on an oral form of chemo called Xeloda. I’m only on my second cycle but so far so good.

Research is very important to me. Yes, without it I would not have the medication I am taking today to allow me a wonderful quality of life. However, my need for research goes beyond that. Metastatic breast cancer currently has no cure. Although I’m doing well on my current medication that could change at any time as cancer can become immune to the chemo. I am a huge advocate for research so that a cure can ultimately be found for this horrible disease. The current medication can buy me several years hopefully but a cure can save me all together.

My message is that metastatic breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence. This is a chronic disease and should be treated as such.  I am extremely active and live a full happy life! I work running my own successful recruitment firm. I travel and have been to Europe twice since my diagnosis and through my treatment. I live every day with the same zest and love of life as I always have.

Shelley Warner.

If you enjoyed this chapter in Shelley’s cancer story you can meet her in person.
Shelley will be one of the speakers at our Mississauga walk location on May 14. 2017.
Visit mothersdaywalk.ca for more information, to register to walk or sponsor someone today.

Shelly recently sat down to speak with Pauline Chan from CTV News to tell her story and why research matters to her. Watch the full story below or on the CTV website

Shelley Warner CTV News

Mark and Rebecca’s Mother’s Day Walk Story – UpDate

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On National Volunteer Week 2017 we are very excited to feature a post from one of our Ottawa volunteers, Mark and Rebecca Fillier.  They have sent us a recent update to Mark and Rebecca’s Mother’s Day Walk story, from April of last year. Mark and Rebecca’s passion for the cause has led us to expand our outdoor Mother’s Day Walk to include one in Ottawa this year.  Recently Mark and Rebecca were kind enough to send us an update to their story and here it is.

Mark and Rebecca Fillier
Here is an update to our continuing journey with Stage 4 Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

After a very successful 2016 Mother’s Day Walk where I managed to finish my fundraising at $10,000.00 we were excited to have been announced the 2016 Top Fundraiser. We started to look at all of the different options that were available to us with the Cruise fundraising prize. After much debate and discussion we decided that we would like to take the 15 day Trans-Atlantic cruise as our prize.

We did have some further setbacks in June 2016. Rebecca ended up in the hospital for 1 ½ weeks due to a large blood clot that had formed in her heart. This was caused by numerous factors and the initial plan was for open heart surgery. We decided against that route and now on top of all the other medications Rebecca is taking blood thinners are part of her daily routine.

Rebecca had her last chemo treatment on August 26, 2016 and we had the doctor’s blessing to go enjoy our vacation. Her cancer had been responding well to the treatments and she was also managing the sides effects well (well as well as could be expected). It was decided that we would wait until we got home to do a follow up CT scan to see where things stood with the cancer. Now with the okay from the doctor we got everything organized and ready to go on this trip of a lifetime.

This cruise started in Southampton, England and finished in Montreal, Canada, with many amazing stops along the way (France, Guernsey, Ireland, Newfoundland and Quebec). This was the perfect vacation for both of us for many reasons. Rebecca is originally from the United Kingdom and hadn’t been home in over 30 years, and although this trip didn’t exactly get her home to Scotland it did allow her to re-experience a boat trip she had taken at the age of 3.

We flew to England on September 7, 2016 and boarded the Azamara Quest on September 9, 2016. All we can say is wow what an experience. Everything from the time we boarded until landing in Montreal was simply AMAZING. We met some amazing people and tried to experience everything we could during our trip, and boy did we have some memories created. During our 4 day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean Mother Nature decided that Tropical Storm Ian was going to give us some added excitement. The ship had to venture south to avoid heading into the eye of the storm (we almost made it to the Azure’s). Ian did present some rough days at sea with 15 foot waves but everyone managed well and we docked in St John’s Newfoundland as planned. During our stop in St John’s we met up with my (Mark’s) family and we covered as much of Newfoundland as possible in 7 short hours. Our journey continued down the St. Lawrence River until we docked in Montreal on September 23, 2016. Again it was an amazing trip and we wished it wasn’t ending, but it was back to reality for us.

On October 3, 2016, Rebecca had her CT scan and we saw the doctor the following week. The news we received was great. As we had shared previously her cancer had spread to her bones, liver and kidneys but the chemo treatments were doing the job. Everything was stable and had shrunk by 50% so it was decided that Rebecca will stay on a chemo break and give her body a break and let it rebuild.

Rebecca’s chemo break lasted until mid-December when her pain had increased really badly. We contacted the doctor and he ordered a CT scan right away. The scan did not bring us the news we wanted but with her symptoms we had expected bad news anyways. The cancer had started growing again and had now spread into her lungs. So we were headed right back to chemo treatments the same day we saw the doctor. The doctor decided that since the chemo treatments she was on before our cruise did their job we would go right back on the same regimen. Well unfortunately her body has not responded as well this time around and we are now awaiting to see a new doctor with regards to a new trial drug focused on TNB (Triple Negative Breast Cancer). Throughout this last year Rebecca has kept her positive attitude and she continue to work full-time. She is an amazing strong woman and continues to fight her battle with this terrible disease head on.

Now on to the Mother’s Day Walk, my continued support to Rebecca has driven me to become further involved with the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and we now have the 2017 walk planned outdoors. This was a vision I had during the 2016 mall walk. I am working with and alongside of some great people in order to make the 2017 Mother’s Day Walk happen. We have secured a location in Kanata (Walter Baker Park) and we are working hard at making this event a huge success. Personally Rebecca and I have raised our fundraising goal this year to $15,000.00 and I am committed to dying my hair pink again as soon as we reach the $7500 mark. As for the 2017 Ottawa Mother’s Day Walk I have a goal set in my mind to raise $100,000.00 in support of Breast Cancer Research through the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. Together we can make a difference and that is why my support and dedication for this cause will not waiver.

Hope for the Fighters
Peace for the Survivors
Prayers for the Taken

– Mark and Rebecca Fillier

What’s my Breast Cancer Story?

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Antoine Abugaber of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada shares his story

As a cancer researcher and an international renowned artist, I want to be able to one day say “we have finally found a cure for breast cancer. That really would be an amazing day.”

Antoine Abugaber - Breast Cancer Society of Canada Board Chair

Today, I serve on the BCSC’s board because I want to make a difference. I want to save the lives of breast cancer patients and decided, long ago, to use my scientific knowledge to do so.

So what’s my story? It really isn’t unique. We all have family members, friends, work colleagues and neighbours that are suffering or have suffered from this disease. And we’ve unfortunately lost many of them too. Knowing that 1 in 9 women will likely develop breast cancer in her lifetime—that is a startling statistic that needs to change.

As a researcher, I have been able to contribute to the international clinical development of five breast cancer drugs that have improved the survival rate in thousands of patients around the world and I am humbled by that personal and professional accomplishment. Today, I continue my life journey as the Board Chair of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada—an organization dedicated to patient-focused research that continues to make a significant difference in the lives of people suffering and surviving breast cancer.

BCSC works with organizations, institutions, research groups and individuals in an effort to cure all manifestations of breast cancer. We have made great strides, but there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. Putting an end to breast cancer can only be achieved through research, which is why BCSC is focused on funding breast cancer research and care across Canada.

There is hope. And we can do this. Let’s work together to make it happen.