‘I didn’t want can­cer again’

The Delhi News-Record - - NEWS - MICHELLE RUBY

Sis­ters Jodi Walsh and Jen­nifer Stark are tak­ing no chances with breast can­cer.

Test­ing last year re­vealed they both have a mu­tated ATM gene. In­her­ited mu­ta­tions in the ATM (Ataxia-Te­lang­i­esc­ta­sia mu­tated) gene are as­so­ci­ated with in­creased risk of cer­tain can­cers. Walsh said it means their risk of get­ting breast can­cer is 70 per cent by age 70.

The sis­ters were tested be­cause their mother, Josie Stark, is a twotime breast can­cer sur­vivor and Jen­nifer a leukemia sur­vivor.

“I didn’t want can­cer again,” Jen­nifer said.

So, both women are plan­ning to have dou­ble mas­tec­tomies and re­con­struc­tive surgery, Stark later in the fall, and Walsh early next year.

“The de­ci­sion ac­tu­ally wasn’t dif­fi­cult,” said Walsh. “I know what it was like when my mom had can­cer. I can’t make my kids go through that.”

Walsh and Stark brought about 30 mem­bers of their fam­ily and friends to Sun­day’s CIBC Run for the Cure at Sim­coe Com­pos­ite School. About 500 par­tic­i­pants were ex­pected to walk or run one-kilo­me­tre and five-kilo­me­tre cour­ses, leav­ing and re­turn­ing to the school.

Last year’s event raised about $100,000. Over the past 19 years since it was es­tab­lished, the lo­cal run has raised more than $2.5 mil­lion, said Carol Mum­mery, codi­rec­tor of the run, along with Gail Cather­wood.

The na­tional Run for the Cure be­gan in 1997 as a part­ner­ship be­tween the Cana­dian Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion, CIBC, and com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. Last year, the foun­da­tion and the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety joined forces un­der the so­ci­ety ban­ner.

The Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety is the largest char­i­ta­ble fun­der of breast can­cer re­search in the coun­try.

About one in eight women will de­velop in­va­sive breast can­cer in her life­time.

Walsh and her team, who called them­selves Josie’s Walk­ers for Knock­ers, all wore dec­o­rated white crino­lines with their pink Run for the Cure T-shirts. The mesh un­der­gar­ments were taken from old wed­ding dresses Josie col­lects to make “an­gel gowns” for ba­bies who die in hos­pi­tal.

Walsh’s niece, Chelsey Geier, at­tached all the crino­line em­bel­lish­ments and made pink capes for ev­ery­one, in keep­ing with the su­per­hero theme of this year’s run.

Team mem­bers col­lected more than $2,100 in pledges.

Mum­mery said the com­mit­tee be­hind the Sim­coe run also or­ga­nizes other fundrais­ing events through­out the year, in­clud­ing In­va­sion of the Drag­ons, the dragon boat fes­ti­val in Water­ford; and fash­ion shows.

She said the money they raise is much greater than that raised in other com­mu­ni­ties of Sim­coe’s size, partly be­cause can­cer is “very preva­lent” in the area.

There were many can­cer sur­vivors among Sun­day’s run par­tic­i­pants.

“There are lots of re­turn­ing teams and lots of new ones,” said Mum­mery. “If some­one in the fam­ily is af­flicted with can­cer it of­ten gen­er­ates a new team.”

Heidi VanDyk, who was one of the event hosts, was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer five years ago just af­ter her 40th birth­day. She had no fam­ily his­tory of can­cer and was con­sid­ered a “ran­dom case,” she said.

“The doc­tors haven’t been able to say why I got breast can­cer,” she said. “We need to con­tinue to walk, run and talk about (the dis­ease).”

BRIAN THOMPSON/ POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Par­tic­i­pants head out from the start line at the CIBC Run for the Cure on Sun­day at Sim­coe Com­pos­ite School in Sim­coe.

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