Sunday morning was beautiful, sunny and perfect for the annual CIBC Run For The Cure 5 K run in Hamilton/Burlington.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is a single-day experience that unites more than 170,000 Canadians in 53 communities across the country. Each year participants and sponsors raise millions of dollars to fund innovative and relevant breast cancer research, education, and awareness programs in communities across Canada.
To me the run represents the strength, courage and hope required by survivors to tackle the disease through the existing known treatments, but also the need for all of us to continue to endeavour to find a cure. To see so many people come together to run in honour of loved ones touched by the disease or just to run as a statement of hope is truly a moving thing (Apart from the countless runners who were there running with a specific person or persons written on their shirts, I saw several runners wearing signs on their shirts that read things like "I'm running for all women" or "I'm running for hope" -- God bless all of them.
Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women. In 2007, over 22,300 women will be diagnosed with it -- 5,300 women will die from it. Frightening. Terrifying, actually. The good news is that incidence rates have stabilized since 1993 and mortality rates have declined steadily at a rate of 2.7% annually and the mortality rate is at its lowest since 1950. This is merely evidence that awareness (which leads to early detection) and continuing to fund research and efforts to discover better treatment methods is having a positive effect.
We got there just minutes before the race began. Francine had pre-registered and picked up her registration pack the day before. And, as it is often difficult to motivate a 3 year old to get out of the house on time, we were running a little bit late on our way there. We did get to the race on time to drop Francine off and then go find a parking spot not all that far away.
When Alexander and I got to the race area, we secured a spot on the sidewalk just a couple of yards from the finish line and planted ourselves in place -- our water, camera, snacks and smiles ready to cheer Mommy as she came in.
Despite our vigilant efforts, Francine managed to come in to the finish line without us spotting her. Of course it might have been one of the myriad of times that I was hoisting Alexander onto my shoulders so he could have a better look over the crowds of people cheering on the runners at the finish line, or when the two of us were fighting over who got to take Mommy's picture as she came running in.
Fran finished the race in approximately 30 minutes, meeting the goal she had set for herself. She's been running on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as on Saturday mornings with a group of women for well over a year now. They often run between 5 and 7 K on most runs and occasionally will run 10 to 12 K when the weather is working in their favour. While it has been well over a year since I have been able to run 5 K (before Alexander was born Fran and I used to run together and had actually done the CIBC Run for the Cure together -- the run was the first time I'd actually gone 5 K, so that was quite an exciting feat for me, on top of knowing I was running for a good cause. I found myself way too out of shape this year to even attempt it -- shame on me.)
Alexander and I were still standing at our post at the finish line, watching hundreds of runners come in and still unable to spot Mommy, when Francine approached us from behind.
"I got in more than 15 minutes ago" Fran said to us, a smile on her face, and her face barely showing any sign of sweat or effort.
"Mommy!" Alexander exclaimed, then turned to me. "We didn't see Mommy come in to finish." he said.
"That's because Mommy was probably running so fast we weren't able to spot her," I said. It's a cute statement, but also a frightening parallel to the way that breast cancer can sneak its way into someone's life. Early detection dramatically increases ones chance of survival. Also, if you're a woman of any age, click here to learn more about how to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
After chatting about the race we spent a little time listening to the music being performed, basking in the glow of the post-race excitement, and, of course, visiting the ice cream truck so that Alexander could have his mixed chocolate vanilla cup of ice cream with the most sprinkles we've ever seen grace a cup of ice cream before.
Sounds to me like that's a 3 year old's proof that there is hope.