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Meet Jennifer McCrea!

Jenn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 34. Her oldest son was almost 3, her baby was 8 months-old and Jenn and her husband had just celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary.

After recovering from a bilateral mastectomy in August of 2011, Jenn started running – something she says she simply didn’t have the willpower to do, before her diagnosis.

“The one thing that I had always said I can’t do, was running. Believe me, there is a lot of adrenalin in your body and mind after your doctor tells you that you are cancer free. I told myself that if the breast cancer didn’t kill me, running sure as hell wasn’t going to either. So, I got on the treadmill and just put one running shoe in front of the other.”

Jenn is also the Winner of the 2013 Calgary Marathon’s So You Think YOU Can Run Contest and will be running the marathon on May 26, 2013 in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. Her goal is to raise $25,000!

Jenn participates in Rethink’s Live Laugh Learn program in Calgary. The money she raises will, in turn, fund the program she has been so thankful to benefit from and help newly diagnosed young women get the support they need too.

Think YOU can run? Why not run for Rethink?

Will you, or someone you know, be running the Calgary Marathon on May 26, 2013? If the answer is yes, please consider raising funds for Rethink HERE

Not a runner?

Click HERE to make a donation in support of Jenn’s incredible strength and determination.

Forty and Feeling Fabulous

Inez has an extra special reason to feel that 40 is fabulous!

The mom of two beautiful little girls is fully embracing turning the big 4-0 this spring. Two birthdays ago, she was bald and going through aggressive chemo, having been diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer.

“The diagnosis was such a shock. I assumed my lump was just a blocked duct from breast feeding. I arrived home from the appointment in a numb state. Gil was in the kitchen making dinner, Lauren was running to greet me and little Sofia was waving her arms in her high-chair. I looked at my perfect little family and just thought how did this happen? Why did this happen? What am I going to do?”

Inez was suddenly thrown out of the carefree world of pre-school and play-dates into the uncertainty and fear of the cancer ward.

“Everyone said I was a trouper but I was exhausted. All of the constant appointments and so much information getting thrown at you at once. You’re trying to figure everything out and the whole time you’re so scared you can’t even concentrate. And, I was trying to be “upbeat” in-front of everyone!”

Inez’s husband, Gil, was also putting on a brave face but felt overwhelmed and was struggling with secret fears.

“I was suddenly trying to support Inez and provide extra care for the kids. Fortunately, I was able to take an extended time away from work to help. I tried my best to be positive but I was scared sh*tless! There were dark thoughts that I had to keep stuffing down deep inside.”

Relief and support for the whole family came when Inez was introduced to Rethink Breast Cancer through another mom from her neighbourhood. Inez got connected and started meeting other young women who could truly understand what she was going through. The family joined Rethink’s Support Saturdays program—a special weekly program that supports the entire family – moms, dads and kids.

“We loved Support Saturdays! It was so helpful to meet other families that were dealing with the same issues. My Support Saturdays ‘mommy group’ was a lifesaver and Gil and the girls loved participating in the kids and dads activities.”

Last fall, Inez was given the all clear. After a long and challenging journey, Inez is proud to be moving forward. And this month, she is especially excited to be celebrating her 40th birthday.

“I am sooooooo thrilled to be turning 40! I’m telling all my friends that 40 will be just fabulous thank-you very much.”

In honour of her 40th birthday, Inez and her husband are throwing a party that’s raising funds for Rethink Breast Cancer. They set up a simple page using Raise Funds 4 Rethink, Rethink’s easy, online fundraising tool, and they are asking all of their friends and family to each donate $40. You can check out her page here.

In addition to giving back to Rethink, Inez wants to help other young women dealing with breast cancer.

“I’m feeling like it’s my time to give back. I received a lot of support from Rethink Breast Cancer and through the other young women that I met through them. I’ve decided to become a peer volunteer and will be doing special training to learn how to best support other young women that suddenly find themselves facing breast cancer.”

Rethink is so proud to have been able to help Inez and her family – to provide the unique support they needed, when they needed it. And we are thrilled that she values the work we do and was motivated to engage her community and fundraise – to give back and support us, and indirectly, other women who are thankful to find Rethink in their time of need.

We look forward to celebrating with Inez on her birthday,

and many more birthdays to come!

Catherine’s Story

When we first met Catherine McCormack she was in the midst of chemo therapy and had recently had a double mastectomy. We learned that this young woman who was a national race walking champion and mother to two young boys, was already dealing with an eight year battle with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Throughout treatment, Catherine continued with her competitive race walking and kept up with her kickboxing, an important part of her cross-training. The women in her kickboxing class christened their Friday class ”Pink Friday” because it followed Catherine’s Thursday chemo treatments.  They wore pink to show their love and support for Catherine’s battle against breast cancer.

While this would seem like a lot for anyone to manage, it was very apparent that Catherine was the type of person who doesn’t let anything slow her down.  While still in treatment, and training, Catherine decided that she would also plan a massive fundraising gala in support of Rethink Breast Cancer, and “kick off” breast cancer awareness month which was only five months away! Her community rallied together to “kick cancer to the curb” with the inaugural Kickbox for the Cure on September 30th, 2011.

Catherine’s spirit, energy, and fitness level are extraordinary. Kickbox for the Cure was a night like no other; black ties and ball gowns, live auction, kick-boxing demos and an epic match with one of Canada’s top female kickboxers. Thanks to the unwavering support of her community, Kickbox for the Cure was a massive success, raising $230,000 for Rethink Breast Cancer.

We would like to thank Catherine for her commitment, courage and “can do” attitude. The money raised through Kickbox for the Cure will help Rethink expand support programs for young women, like Catherine, dealing with breast cancer.

To find out more about Kickbox for the Cure,

please visit www.kickboxforthecure.com

Lori’s Story

On September 13th, Lori Sugarman-Li, a long time Rethink committee member and volunteer, hosted a beautiful “ladies-only” garden party to help raise funds for one of Rethink’s important and very special programs, Support Saturdays.  Support Saturdays is a one-of-a-kind program for young families dealing with breast cancer and, due to a funding shortfall, the much-loved program has been in jeopardy. As a new mom, Lori was moved to help keep the Support Saturdays program running. Lori understood firsthand how joyful yet physically and emotionally challenging this time in life is for any new mother, and found it difficult to imagine being a new mom and coping with breast cancer too.

Lori lost a favourite aunt to breast cancer and this personal connection is what first brought Lori to Rethink nine years ago. She was eager to get involved with Rethink, an organization she says “made breast cancer awareness and fundraising relevant for me as a young woman.” Lori worked tirelessly over the years to help make many of our fundraisers incredible successes, which helped Rethink to grow and expand its important work with young women concerned about and affected by breast cancer.  Becoming a mother deepened Lori’s connection to Rethink and specifically the Support Saturdays program.

Lori set a lofty fundraising goal and galvanized the power of her community to make it happen.  She invited friends and colleagues to her house to hear more about Rethink, Support Saturdays and the experiences of young women with breast cancer.  After some incredible food, drink and a moving screening of our film, About Her, Lori made the big ask.  Her guests rallied around Lori’s heartfelt request and helped her raise over $20,000  which enables Rethink to fund the Support Saturdays program for another year.

Rethink would like to thank Lori, her husband Kevin, and her friends and family for so generously supporting Rethink Breast Cancer. We are touched and relieved that this much-needed niche program can continue to help moms, dads and young children who are dealing with breast cancer.

If you are a mother with young children who needs family support, you can click here to learn more about this transformative program.

If you would like to help support Rethink and the vital programs we offer

but not sure where to start, please contact nikki@rethinkbreastcancer.com

Sarah’s Story

Sarah and Amanda

Running is a passion for Sarah O’Regan and when she headed to Vancouver after graduating from Western, Sarah caught the triathlon bug. She was feeling strong and totally loving her beautiful west coast runs. Suddenly, she began to notice frequent pain in her chest and was finding it difficult to breathe. Thinking the breathing problem was asthma, Sarah went to her doctor to get to the bottom of it. After a battery of tests, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was only 23 years old.

The diagnosis was a total shock. At her young age, she didn’t know much about it and assumed it was something that older women struggled with. Because her cancer was advanced, Sarah had little time to even let the news sink in. She was rushed into surgery and chemo therapy within days of her diagnosis.

While in Vancouver, dealing with getting through aggressive treatment, her best friend Amanda Blakely, would frequently visit from T.O. to cheer Sarah up and lend support. She and Amanda had been best friends since kindergarten. They lived together in university and we were like sisters growing up.

During one visit, Amanda told Sarah she wanted to throw a fundraiser to raise Sarah’s hopes. While Sarah knew Amanda was planning a party for her in Toronto, she wasn’t paying too much attention to what Amanda was actually pulling together. Sarah expected a small gathering and walked into a full-on fundraiser packed with six hundred friends and family – Boobyball was born!

Having done chemo that morning and taken a plane from Vancouver to Toronto, Sarah wasn’t sure she’d have the energy for a party. She was really nauseous and just felt shy and timid. She wore a hat and had no hair and was actually kind of dreading it. However, when she got there, it was the best night. She felt so comfortable she took off her hat. It was a really good breakthrough moment – she realized that everyone in the room wanted to help her.

Sarah would find herself needing more help. Despite treatment, the breast cancer reoccurred about a year later and had spread. Her prognosis was grim. She found herself going through another even more intense battle with cancer. Against all odds, Sarah was eventually declared cancer free. It was a miracle.

Sarah continues to attend the Boobyball year after year. It’s an annual benchmark, reminding her of how far she’s come since that first event. Sarah’s life was forever changed by her cancer experience. At such a young age, she developed the insight and wisdom of a woman far beyond her years as well as an appreciation for all things in her life, big and small. She cherishes every day and is determined to live life to the fullest.

For Sarah, living life to the fullest post-breast cancer has included marrying her husband Jake at age 25 and having three beautiful children before she was even thirty.

As Boobyball marked its 10th Anniversary in 2011, Sarah reflected on another 10th anniversary—it was just over a decade since her initial diagnosis. Sarah’s energy and zest for life and determination are truly inspiring. She continues to bring hope to young women dealing with breast cancer everywhere.

Debbie Does Africa

After benefitting from several of Rethink Breast Cancer’s support programs throughout her breast cancer journey, Debbie James decided to return the favour. To help raise money for Rethink, Debbie embarked on another journey…across Africa!

This month, Debbie completed a 100km, five day, trek across Maasai land in Kenya accompanied by two Maasai leaders with only a spear (called “the equalizer”) for protection. The trip was a fair-trade, community run initiative that provides eight Maasai families employment as well as contributing towards community agricultural and educational projects. Debbie decided to engage her own community to show their support for her journey by making pledges to fund Rethink Breast Cancer’s programs.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman is an incredibly isolating and frightening experience. I feel so fortunate to have found Rethink soon after my diagnosis.  They provided me with telephone-based peer support, monthly educational support meetings, and a community of inspirational young survivors.

You too can make a difference – and you don’t need to trek across Africa to do it! Simply set up a fundraising page on www.Reachout4Rethink.org and engage your family and friends to help you raise funds to support Rethink and other young women dealing with breast cancer. Click here to visit Debbie’s fundraising page.

Congratulations to Debbie on completing this incredible adventure and for raising $$3,205 for Rethink.

Jian & Page Magen’s Story

On Thursday March 17th our favorite brothers (and twins) Jian and Page Magen held the second annual Rethink Rumble in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. Both Jian and Page have been long time supporters of Rethink and last year decided to take their support one step further. In combining their  extensive knowledge of events (they run Magen Boys Entertainment ) and their love of wrestling, the Rethink Rumble was born. An evening of bumps, bruises, laughs and theatrics all in one. When asked why they chose wrestling, Jian says “Growing up as a kid in the 1980’s wrestling explosion I witnessed characters like ‘The Junk Yard Dog’ or ‘The Million Dollar Man’ or (one of my all time favorites) ‘The Bushwhackers’. These guys were a riot and didn’t need to resort to any offensive behavior in order to get a rise out of the audience. It was when wrestling was pure ……We wanted to bring people together, young and old, and watch wrestling at its finest. We have had such an overwhelming response from fathers emailing us saying how excited they are to take their kids to go see wrestling (most for the first time) to watch the same people that their father took them to see 25 years ago”

This year’s event was nothing short of spectacular, presenting everyone from The Million Dollar Man to Screech from Saved by the Bell.

Anyone who knows these two brothers will agree that their energy is contagious and their drive for success and love for life inspiring. We hope the Rethink Rumble will one day grow to fill an arena sized venue and inspire a new breed of Rethink supporters!  Thank you Magen Boys!

Money raised through the Rethink Rumble will help to run our research, education and support programs. Find out how you too can get involved and plan your own fundraiser for Rethink!

Maura’s story

On September 26th, 2010, Rethink Breast Cancer’s Director of Finance and Human Resources, Maura Young, ran the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon.

Maura is not only a staff member at Rethink, but also a support program participant and a peer volunteer. She was just 36 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and having lost her mother the previous year to the disease she was scared for herself and her family.

“I’m very proud of how we run our charity and very proud of our continued growth and ability to reach more and more young women in need of information and support. And I know that my mom would be very pleased and proud that I’m part of a force for change in the lives of young women concerned about and affected by breast cancer. ”

Maura raised over $3,000 by using Raise Funds 4 Rethink’s fundraising page.

Danielle’s story

On Tuesday April 13, 2010, Danielle took it ALL off on TV– her hair that is.

In a personal effort to raise funds for Rethink – in celebration and support of young women thriving and surviving with breast cancer – the now bald, bold and beautiful Danielle Cardinal created her very own hair-raising adventure that culminated in having her head shaved on Rogers Television in Ottawa. Through her Raise Funds 4 Rethink microsite she single-handedly raised over $3,000 and an immeasurable amount of awareness for the cause.

“As a teenager, I understood the devastation of breast cancer by my strong connections to my grandmother, who is now cancer free. But I often felt powerless, as the primary focus was solely on treatment. Then, as a young woman, I sought to be more engaged and involved. And now, as a woman in my 30s, I am educated and informed about the choices I make. These tools have empowered me and increased my awareness around breast cancer.

Positive steps are being taken with programs and initiatives at Rethink Breast Cancer. I’m thrilled to be a small part of that dedication to thinking differently about how to beat breast cancer.”

Bald, bold & beautifully yours,
Danielle

Log on to her Facebook page for before and after images, videos and more.

Sylvia’s story

I believe that everything that we do is a step closer to where we are heading, even though we may not know where that is.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a year ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I would be. Little did I know that my surgeries, my chemotherapy appointments and my growing desire to share my story would evolve into something much greater.

Now here I was, in March 2010 (the official month of new beginnings), flying to Toronto to begin a new career with Rethink Breast Cancer. I remember the first time I found Rethink on the internet. I was overcome with excitement and joy at finding an organization that was unique and full of energy.  I love that I’ll be working for an organization that I believe in, and a cause that I am passionate about.

I’m excited to be working with this amazing team. There are some great events and programs being planned that will bring much needed support to young women of the West Coast.

Sylvia Soo

Sylvia’s inspiring story was featured in the May 2010 issue of Chatelaine: Read the article.

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