Margaret Carter was the survivor spokesperson at the fourth annual BRIGHT Run.
Margaret writes about her breast cancer experience: Hi, I’m still here and going strong with BRIGHT Run. I’m Margaret Carter, 61 years old and retired from the Ministry of Health. Life is precious and I’m grateful for 10-plus years of survivorship allowing me to celebrate 10 more birthdays, 10 more years of laughter and tears with family and friends.
I couldn’t have arrived at this moment in time without the continued support and encouragement from my husband Mo, family and friends. Also, I attribute the 10 years of survivorship to the expert care at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton.
In the summer of 2006, I was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer from my annual mammogram. I cannot impress upon you the importance of mammograms after age 50. How could I have possibly known that this diagnosis would change me profoundly and redefine my values?
Experience is a tremendous teacher. The challenges I faced along the journey were arduous, to say the least. Within weeks following the diagnosis, I had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and 17 treatments of Herceptin to treat the HER2neu. (The most prolific and aggressive of my three cancers.) Also, I completed five years of daily meds – oral chemotherapy. I called my journey “THE FULL MONTY.”
Upon reflection of those early days of treatment, coping with the unknown was the most difficult. I could not possibly have done it alone. It was a difficult process made as comfortable as possible by the JCC team comprised of a Primary Care nurse (Karen), Oncologist (Dr. Mark Levine), radiologists and staff.
The chemo suite staff members were outstanding. I especially want to thank the JCC Support Department (Linda Learn and colleagues) who handled each situation with sensitivity. The supportive staff helped me recognize the triggers of my ‘fearful thinking’ and helped promote emotional resiliency.
We can’t always be in control of every aspect of the world we co-exist in, but we can determine how we react to it many times a day by our attitude. Since I walked through their doors 10 ½ years ago, the JCC continues to make improvements in cancer research. It takes a team to help overcome and survive cancer.
They did so much for me. I want to give something back to the JCC and to the other women diagnosed with breast cancer. I am so indebted to the JCC that I want to do a small part in giving back to its future success. That small part is sponsoring and volunteering with the BRIGHT Run. Since the launch of the BRIGHT Run in 2007, my husband Mo and I have been active as participants, sponsors and volunteers.
Most importantly, I participate in the BRIGHT Run because I know the dollars collected and donated here will be invested in research and clinical studies locally, in Hamilton. The research teams in Hamilton are among the finest anywhere. I want to be a part of something special, which is developing treatments that will benefit future breast cancer patients in our community and throughout the world.
It has been 10 years since my diagnosis. I will never forget that each day is a gift. I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of walking beside close friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances while they too have been on their cancer journey. Each time, I have been reminded of why I do what I do and how each and every one of them have inspired me and continues to do so.
Those individuals are my heroes. Their strength inspires me to continue to be involved and give back to this community. My involvement in the BRIGHT Run is the best reason I could possibly have to create more cancer heroes in our community.
Beginning in spring 2017, please visit me at the JCC and Juravinski Hospital lobbies promoting BRIGHT Run raffle tickets. I look forward to the 10th Anniversary of the BRIGHT Run on September 9, 2017 at Dundas Conservation Area. The BRIGHT experience provides a rollercoaster of emotional moments: laughter, tears, hugs, cheers and immeasurable joy.
The most powerful lesson I learned from this experience? Cancer made me appreciate the present moment. That is all anyone has – the moment we are in. The BRIGHT Run connects all the participants and creates a powerful life moment. I hope everyone savours these powerful BRIGHT Run moments. Come and experience a BRIGHT moment!
‘Go as long as you can, then take another step‘– Anonymous.