the weekend to end breast cancer – a transforming experience

“she made it another year, she made it another year.” that’s all that went through my mind as i watched the crowd of walkers surge into the stadium.

yesterday afternoon was the celebration of another weekend to end breast cancer. one weekend a year, thousands of walkers, encouraged by tens of thousands of sponsors, donors and supporters, walk 60 km (38 miles) to help erase breast cancer.

my friend and soul mate haedy was one of the walkers. one of the survivors.

despite her failing health, but equipped, as always, with a fierce determination, she and her husband trekked a weekend through blisters, laughter, sore backs, hugs, tears, tiredness and honking cars to stand up – nay, rear up – and say no to suffering, premature death and endless heartache.

on a very tangible level, this has made a huge difference. before the weekend to end breast cancer started in 2004, the BC cancer society had $200,000 to study breast cancer. since then, $10,000,000 have been allocated to breast cancer research.

among other things, they have hired dr. sam aparicio, a leading researcher in the field, who is currently working a program called METABRIC. this program is rescuing a unique and irreplaceable collection of breast tumour specimens, and is developing a new technology platform capable of screening thousands of drug molecules for activity against breast cancer.

the donations come from the $2,000 minimum each walker has to raise. this year, once again, buy-low foods and still creek press made important donations to haedy and her husband. a huge chunk of money came from a fundraiser in july that haedy organized (and cooked for like mad). (and thanks, by the way, to enigma, a restaurant that invited a bunch of us last night to nibble on their delicious food to celebrate these amazing accomplishments.)

on a less tangible level, walking the weekend to end breast cancer is a transformative experience. i did it myself last year. this year i saw haedy’s husband go through it. his wife’s ill health has been very difficult for him, as it would be for any spouse, parent or child. but i know something happened: there was a glow to him that i hadn’t seen in a long time.

there is something that takes place when thousands of people get together to work on a common goal. it’s an army, alright, and it has that feeling of strong bonding. but it’s truly an army of peace and love, full of pink, loving, creative women soldiers. (and a few guys – 60 participated this year. good for them, and for us!)

if you can’t make the walk next year – it happens all over canada – at least come out and cheer. it’s a hoot! lots of the participants dress up, and each year they come up with more ingenious slogans. my favourite this year was a team with its slogan emblazoned on their t-shirts (pink, of course): “saving second base”.

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