It was another fabulous day at the 25th annual CIBC Celebration of Hope in Markham. An event of over 1000 women (and a few lucky men) gathered together to not only raise awareness and funds for cancer research, but to breathe new hope into the lives of many.
Every year, this event is filled with laughter and tears, sometimes both at the same time, while the two amazing hosts Allan Bell and CHFI’s Erin Davis along with their guests, stand up on stage capturing our hearts, minds and fundraising money. Today was no exception.
There are always so many heartfelt experiences shared by the guest speakers. Some are celebrity guests, and some are very real people like you and me. No matter what their story, journey or message, the one thing that always rings clear for me, is the importance of breast self exams. Perhaps it resonates with me because no matter how many years I attend, and how many ways I support this cause, I find myself always saying “I should really start”.
It’s shameful and embarrassing that at my age, I still have not made it a regular practice. Was it fear? Was it laziness? Was it that it wasn’t openly talked about while I was growing up? Or was it an ignorant belief that breast cancer will not affect me? Maybe all of the above.
I remember a commercial from the late 80s/90s that was created to bring awareness to the importance of breast self exams. I faintly recall it, as it was quickly pulled from the air and banned. It was of young teen boys sitting on a couch announcing that they would be happy to examine breasts for free. It was actually quite humorous. Even more so now, as it brings a gentle reminder that there are many people who would love get their hands on our breasts and “help”, yet here we are (me), not really embracing and owning the fact that it is our job and ours alone.
I can think of a bunch of excuses why I don’t do regular exams, but as I sat there today listening to the guest speaker talk about how she found her lump, not by the mammogram she had a few months earlier, but through her own self exam; I know that my excuses hold zero weight. Every time I choose not to do it, it is exactly that; a choice. And as I am on the brink of turning 40, it’s a choice I can no longer afford to not make.
Each year I am reminded of the great work we do to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Each year I walk away touched by the journeys many brave women make in their fight with breast cancer. And each year I am once again faced with the reality that, had these women not detected it through self exams, their chance at fighting would had been severely compromised.
Tonight while tucking my kids in bed, I was reminded once again, of what is really important in life. I want to be around to watch my kids grow up. I want to model for my daughter what it looks like to honour your body and love yourself completely. Tonight, I have vowed to take my life back into my own hands (literally) and celebrate the hope of putting an end to breast cancer, starting by performing regular breast self exams.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. What will you do to celebrate?