Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who Are You Running For?

Shan was happiest during the dog days of summer. A time when Shan could feel the heat of the sun, swim off the sailboat, join friends at the beach or their cottage. To wake up to blue sky and sunshine was her happy place. We still call them “Shan Days.”

Shan was only 24 when she lost her life to breast cancer. Shan’s symptoms were misdiagnosed by a number of health care professionals and she was diagnosed late with metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. Shan faced the tests and breast cancer treatments with determined optimism, but it was too little, too late and Shan passed away a few months later.

In an effort to make a difference for young women following in Shan’s footsteps, Team Shan Breast Cancer Awareness for Young Women (Team Shan) was born. Team Shan is a national charity dedicated to educating the public, health care professionals and young women about early detection, risk reduction and prevention of breast cancer.

Team Shan has reached over 100,000 young women across Canada with their breast cancer risk and breast health information. Young women have responded, taken action for their own health and shared information. They have appreciated not being forgotten in breast cancer messaging and thanked Team Shan for being on campus.

This fall, through community grant support from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region, Team Shan will be hosting a multi-faceted breast cancer awareness campaign on and around the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver. Working with campus contacts and partners, the campaign will run from the first of October to the middle of November. Watch for billboard posters, transit shelter and bus ads, CiTR 101.9 radio spots, Ubyssey print media ads, displays, print resources on campus, website and social media posts.

Shan’s face and her story has resonated with young women and made an impact on communicating Team Shan messages. Messages on breast cancer facts, risk factors, symptoms and self care will be shared at UBC. Messages that have made a difference for young women diagnosed with breast cancer, e.g., “In Shan’s memory, I would perform self-exams on a fairly regular basis. The only reason I did these exams was because I would remember Shan, and the billboards and your messages on FB from the group. The happy news is, because I did regular exams, I found it very early. Thank you for running programs in Shan’s memory. Thank you for reminding me that it is not just a disease of older women. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

I will be on hand at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure event in Vancouver to share my expertise and help create a future without breast cancer. Shan was a runner; a gifted athlete. I will be participating in Shan’s memory.

Who are you running for?

Lorna Larsen
Shanna's Mom
Team Shan President

Monday, September 28, 2015

Binder a Reminder of Long Journey With Cancer

Sandy Przada

A binder full of doctor referrals, pill regimens, pathology reports and other miscellaneous documents tell the story of Sandy Przada’s two-year journey with breast cancer.

One hand-scribbled note indicates directions to the store where she purchased her first wig after chemotherapy, while a calendar of radiation dates notes not only the appointment time but also the friend or family member who accompanied her for support.

Although it has been nearly 11 years since the diagnosis, Przada keeps the binder as a reminder of her journey.

“I forget every little detail of treatment - like before my radiation treatment I had to have three little dots tattooed on me so that the radiation would be placed exactly where it needed to be every time.”

“When I look back at my binder I can't believe I had gone through all of that.” she said. “I think it upsets me more now than when I was going through it.”

The diagnosis came in November 2004, after Przada, then 37, discovered the tell-tale lump and inquired about it during a regular check-up. First came the ultrasound, and then a needle biopsy which confirmed Przada had Stage 3 breast cancer.

She recalls it felt like a death sentence. Along with her husband Keith, they toiled over having to break the news to their three boys.

“You hit a wall, almost like you don’t believe it,” she said. “After a little while, I went ‘you know what, this is just a little bump in the road, I just have to do what I have to do and I can move on’.”
By mid-December, Przada was on the surgery table, where surgeons performed a full mastectomy on the left side and removed a two centimetre mass.

After Christmas with the family, Przada started six months of chemotherapy on January 6, 2005, followed by six weeks of daily radiation in Victoria.

“It takes a toll on your body,” she said. “With the chemo, you feel sick, and it’s like a constant hangover.”

Following the radiation, Przada became eligible for a government funded cancer treatment for Her2/neu, one of the types of cancers she had.

“They were testing [Herceptin] on the really invasive cancers, and it seemed to work for them,” she said. “It was supposed to be for a year, but as they learned more about it, they could double it up and it was a shorter time.”

From there, Przada was on the road to recovery. She continued to see her oncologist for two years, and now has annual checkups and mammograms. Regular biking, walking and eating well have become part of Przada's prevention strategy. She said once you have experienced breast cancer, it is hard to shake the fear of it returning.

“It doesn’t come often, but when you hear of a case, it brings you back and you think ‘nobody is safe’, it could happen to anyone, it could happen to me again,” she said. “So it’s always in the back of my mind.”

On October 4, Przada will be one of many local breast cancer survivors to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Nanaimo.

Although she had completed the run in years preceding her diagnosis, Przada has since participated every year.

“My boys come and do it with me, and my youngest brother who is not a runner at all makes it a point every year to come and do it with me,” she said. “It’s easy to do and it’s a good event. It’s fun to be there.”

The CIBC Run for the Cure is on Sunday, October 4 at nine communities across the province including: Abbotsford, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Vernon and Victoria.  To register, donate or volunteer, visit
Niomi Pearson
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure - Nanaimo

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Own Your Strong with CBCF and Mudderella – I am!

I’m a big fan of CBCF. I have a good reason to be.

Our family was lucky – blessed. We dodged a bullet. Judy Caldwell had surgery and radiation therapy. She was the picture of health six months after her diagnosis. We were shaken, but our feet were on firmer ground. A lot of families would heave sign of relief and move on, maybe donate some money. My mom, for lack of a better phrase, got pissed off. She was done with the whole concept of cancer. She had seen the chasm yawning in front of innumerable women and decided that instead of running away, she was going to go get a shovel and start filling that hole in, with whatever she could find. Ultimately, she founded the BC/Yukon Region of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and built an organization to raise money, fund research, promote awareness and advocate for breast cancer patients and all people facing breast cancer. In short, Judy Caldwell rode her wave of anger and took action.

Karolina Turek Photography.
The lessons I’ve learned from my mom cover every facet of my life: how I work, how I parent, how I treat people, how I treat myself and how I treat my body and spirit.

Me, I’m Chelsea, Judy’s daughter. It’s a title that means the world to me, just like she does. I’m a 41 year old lawyer with a busy practice, a gorgeous husband and a 22 month old son. I also have a lot of really good makeup, because that whole situation, while rewarding, can really take it out of me.

When my mother told me Mudderella had chosen CBCF as a charity partner, I was thrilled, and not just because it meant that I had an excellent reason to take a weekend with my husband in Whistler. My mom and I exercise all the time. When I was pregnant, we both went to the gym every day. I wanted to keep that bump as healthy as possible. She wanted to be healthy and strong to make sure she could tote the bump stretching my pants out around on one arm. She was working out because she had asked herself an important question – what do I want the next 10 years my life to look like? Do I want to be strong? Confident? Flexible? Happy?

It’s a good question. Easy to answer. Tough to follow through on.

Before and during my pregnancy, I didn’t think about working out much. I did five miles on the bike the day before my son was born (I’m pretty sure everyone in the gym was waiting for me to go into labour. I looked ready to pop). It’s what I do to calm down. It’s where I focus and recover from the day.

After I delivered my son, I really did wonder whether everything would return to its former state. Thanks to my habits, and a baby that loved the running stroller, I had a very easy recovery and bounced back well. My jeans fit. Even the scary ones. Still, I didn’t look the same.  My husband told me I looked great, but I still felt different. I think that on some level I thought that if I worked out hard enough, I could reverse time and become a 23 year old again.  I could work out enough that sleep deprivation didn’t matter. My logic is not like your earth logic, and I refuse to be limited! Gravity and time? Who needs them?

I realized that my attitude had to change before my brain exploded. At 41, I needed to accept that I wasn’t magically aging in reverse. And that aging didn’t matter (not that much, I mean, I’m not giving up sunscreen or moisturizer). Aside from freezing myself (can’t, too much Trader Joe’s flat bread in the freezer), my face and body were going to change. I had to start thinking about what my body could do, not what it looked like. I’m not going to be a swimsuit model any time soon – and thank God, because I hate fake tans and false eyelashes. I took my son to the park and the playground. I saw how much joy sang through his little body as he learned and gained strength. I showed him how to climb and run and jump. I thought about what I wanted to feel – that natural high that comes with play. Adults don’t get a lot of chance to play. We get stuck in working out for our health, to manage our stress, to fit into our scary jeans. I wanted something different. That’s where the mud comes in. Running an obstacle course is fun.

Mudderella is a chance to play and jump and run without fear. We can have some fun getting to the finish line.

I think about how we go through the day, looking for approval and trying to succeed. So much of our self-worth is actually a reflection of what we see mirrored in the eyes around us. I’ve felt that, being a human/woman, for years. Absent some serious deprogramming, that isn’t going away. But, even when the mirror is not your friend, when all your kid wants is another exhausting, loud adventure, when there is one more expletive deleted thing to take care of, there is something that I own. I own what my body can do. That’s the result of the time I put in. Nobody gave me that. I built that for myself, one nasty horrible gut wrenching burpee at a time. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s achievements are different. No matter what they are, they belong to you.

I own my strength. I build it every day. I build it for me, for my son and my husband. For my whole family. When you own your strong, you can lend your strength to everyone around you. Like my mom did and still does.

So, I own my strong. Do you?

Chelsea Caldwell
Mother, wife, daughter and Mudderella

Visit – it’s not too late to register for Mudderella Whistler on Saturday, September 26. As a CBCF supporter you receive $30 of your ticket price, when you use code “CharityPartner100CBCF” at checkout.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tea with a Good Dose of Purpose

Different people consume tea at different occasions, all across the globe. In Canada, we have the benefit of being exposed to numerous types of tea and occasions for the drink.

Images and words that often come to mind when thinking of tea are togetherness, understanding, caring, warmth and relaxation. No matter if it's hot tea, black or white, cold tea with sugar and lemon, bubbles or leaves, tea can bring a sense of comfort. Whether it's your tea ceremony, cooling down after a day in the sun, laying in bed sick, cozying up to read a book or sitting chatting around the kitchen table with friends – tea has been there.

Tea has new meaning for Josephine Bruno, a 19 year breast cancer survivor from Kamloops, British Columbia. Being Italian, drinking tea often meant that you were ill, but now tea means something much more to her.

Josephine’s story began in May 1996, when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Then and there, she made a commitment to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region (CBCF).

"Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer 19 years ago, my first duty was to go through treatment... and then to do something to raise money for breast cancer research. Fundraising for CBCF is like a good dose of medicine for me.”

And she has done just that. She participated in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure with her team of CAN-ITAL Ladies and her work colleagues. Along with her beloved nephew, Anthony Salituro, she helped to raise a tremendous $750,000 through the Pink Ribbon Charity Ball in Kamloops over 16 years. When the Pink Ribbon Tea presented by Blenz Coffee was launched in October 2014, she leaped at the opportunity to participate.

"25 guests joined me in my home to raise money for my special cause. Everything was pink – we had a wonderful time that was both fun and meaningful." 

This year, she is thrilled to once again be hosting a Pink Ribbon Tea presented by Blenz Coffee – in her home – with friends and family, and will be enjoying good food, playing games and sharing stories to raise funds for the cause. She has made a commitment to the Foundation to help make funding possible to create a future without breast cancer. Josephine hopes others will host a tea party as well, and share their own personal story.

Have you registered to hold a tea party yet? Learn more and sign up today at You won’t regret it.