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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is breast cancer?

How I Define Breast Cancer - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This year, nearly 26,300 Canadian women and 230 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  The below photos are of women whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. Each photo tells a story — the pink powder used as a symbol of breast cancer to each woman in her own unique way.

Claire

"I've never really identified with the strength that people say they see in me. Today I felt it."

Claire was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She is a registered psychotherapist who works exclusively with people coping with cancer and their caregivers. She has about 30 years experience in the field, much of it with breast cancer patients. She is married and has two daughters who are young adults.

“It takes longer than I imagined to feel better. I really pushed myself, and that doesn't work well in recovery. I am learning to listen to my body, do what I can, but take a break when I need to.” 

Yvette and Lan

"It was difficult to have my best friend diagnosed just four days apart from me. But we ended up sharing our fears and providing strength to each other. My journey was less painful with her beside me."

Yvette (right) asked Lan (left) to play with her at recess in Grade Two. The pair has been best friends ever since. When Lan called Yvette in 2016 to tell her she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, Lan could hardly believe what she heard: Yvette too had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“This has been a roller coaster. She has been my anchor on this ride,” says Lan.

» Read Lan & Yvette's full story

Caroline

“Cancer picked me but I am choosing now how the rest of the story plays out."

Caroline was diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer in 2015. She is married with two teenage kids. After receiving the diagnosis of an aggressive high-risk cancer, Caroline decided to take a break from the corporate world, where she had thrived in the fast paced and upward career trajectory for 20+ years. Caroline now spends her time doing things she really loves — volunteering, attending Chef School, and spending quality time with friends and family.

“I like the idea of rejuvenating the symbols that represent breast cancer to keep it relevant and help start conversations. To me, the pink powder represents strength in fighting this disease and pays tribute to survivors and those that we’ve lost to breast cancer.”

Dinah

"I really wanted - no needed - to do this photo to prove to myself that even after all the surgeries, chemo and radiation, the tests and appointments, the fear and uncertainty, I am still here, scarred and older and hopefully a bit wiser, but here."

Dinah is an optimist who loves spending time with her family and friends. She’s at her best when she’s laughing and enjoying other people’s company. Dinah was diagnosed with Stage II (ductal) in her left breast and Stage III (lobular) in her right breast in 2009.

Karima

"I don’t look like I have breast cancer. Sometimes I think it’s hard for people to understand."

Karima is a wife, mom, sister and daughter. She’s been living with metastatic breast cancer since a stage 4 diagnosis at age 49 in 2013. Her faith keeps her grounded.

"Stage 4 is hard. People say things like ‘When do you stop taking the drugs? What happens then?’ and those things are difficult to hear," she says.

Karima volunteers for the CIBC Run for the Cure and finds strength by connecting with others in the breast cancer community.

Florianne

"I heard that word ‘cancer’ and I thought I was going to die. I didn’t. I have a new life. A new hope."

Florianne is a two-time breast cancer survivor, enjoying retirement, passionate about life and healthy living. She was diagnosed with DCIS in 1999 and Stage 1 in 2005. Florianne leads a very active lifestyle — she cycles everywhere in the city, dragon boats three times a week, enjoys walking/hiking in the park, yoga, tai chi, reiki and bio energy. Florianne loves to give back by volunteering for good causes.

Nelly

"I don’t feel like I’ve lost something. I’m still a woman. I’m still sexy."

Nelly is a proud mother of two boys aged 16 and 13. Her mom had breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation. Nelly too tested BRCA+ in 2008 and prophylactically removed her breasts and ovaries after learning of her extremely high risk of developing cancer.

“If sharing my experience helps even one person know about the BRCA gene, it is worth it,” says Nelly.

She is a physiotherapist, with a specialty in pelvic health, and owns six physiotherapy clinics in the GTA. Nelly teaches post-graduate courses in this area. Nelly is married to an amazing and supportive man (Sam) who stands behind her in everything she does.

Dolores

"I tell my daughters and sisters: know your risks and know your body. Keep on track of your screening tests."

Dolores retired in 2009 from a 30-year career. She looked forward to spending retirement doing all the things that she never had time for. Soon after, Dolores’ Mum got ill and Dolores was able to spend time with her. But she never thought breast cancer would happen to her too. In August 2014, Dolores was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Dolores likes to golf and travel with her husband, spend time with her grandchildren and volunteer for various causes.

“My surgery was three years ago last week. When I look back, it’s hard to imagine I was so ill. Getting back to normal wasn’t easy. There are still long-term side effects like lymphedema.”