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Thursday, February 4, 2016

World Cancer Day

I had originally planned to write a post today about saving money on travel, but given that it's World Cancer Day, and cancer is a cause close to my heart, I thought I would share my experience in hopes of raising some awareness.

As a young adult, still pretty fresh from my university studies, I took a job with the Canadian Cancer Society.  My dad had worked in non-profit my whole life, and that was an area of interest for me, so it seemed meant to be.  Little did I know how much this work would affect me.

Growing up, I knew that my dad's parents had both succumbed to cancer before I was born.  And I knew of other family friends, acquaintances and members of my own extended family that had their own cancer experiences.  I knew, even at  a young age, that cancer affects many.

When I began working at the Canadian Cancer Society, I knew that 2 out of 5 people would be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  I knew that it also meant that each diagnosis was life changing for those diagnosed, as well as their friends and family.

I worked for the Canadian Cancer Society for just under 9 years, and in that time I met so many amazing people - cancer survivors, family members impacted by cancer, widows/widowers, and amazing volunteers passionate about the cause.   I also got to see the impact of the work we did:  children with cancer experiences that were able to attend summer camp, people who were able to receive emotional support from the one-on-one peer support program, people who received financial assistance with their travel costs for treatment, the years of advocacy work that resulted in things like the Smoke Free Public Places act and flavoured tobacco bans.... to name a few.

But nothing reminded me more of why I was working for this organization than when my own father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013.  This diagnosis came as a shock to all of us.  My dad lived for 18 months after his diagnosis.



The loss of my father was devastating, and I miss him every day.  

Unfortunately, my story is not unique.  Cancer affects many and will continue to affect many.  But in saying that, we have come a long way from where we were even 30 years ago.  Survival rates get better, treatments become more precise, and new discoveries are made.

This June I will participate, once again, in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life.  This uplifting event connects me with others and gives me hope for the future.

On this World Cancer Day, I encourage others to get involved in the cancer cause.  There are so many ways you can be involved, whether it be participating in your local cancer fundraiser, cutting your hair and donating it to have wigs made for people with cancer, contacting your government officials to encourage them to implement healthy public policies, or even just taking charge of your own health.  

Monitoring your own body and reporting any changes to your own health, participating in the screening programs available in your own area, being physically active, being a non-smoker (or quitting smoking), protecting your skin from harmful UV rays and maintaining a healthy diet are all some examples of ways you can take your health in to your own hands.

Let's work together to raise awareness!

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