When it comes to the effects breast cancer can have on a woman’s life, education and support are key.
For the fifth consecutive year Ponoka FCSS and breast cancer survivor Donna Stewart are hosting a walk with all proceeds directly benefiting those battling the disease.
The walk beings at 10 a.m. at the FCSS office on Oct. 4 and at 11 a.m. the walkers will reconvene at the office for coffee and snacks. Those who weren’t able to participate in the walk are encouraged to come out.
“I don’t want people to think it’s all about me, because it’s not,” explained Stewart.
She wishes the breast cancer survivors of Ponoka would meet a couple times a year to share their experiences and lend their support to women facing the same hardships.
“I’m really hoping other breast cancer survivors will come out,” she said. “I really would like them to come share their knowledge.”
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and again in 2007 Stewart and her women’s group spent several years participating in large walks such as CIBC’s Run for the Cure.
However she wanted her time and energy more focused on directly helping those with breast cancer. “So I said to the ladies (group) how would you feel donating our $45 to someone going through breast cancer?”
Stewart made the logical choice to team up with FCSS. The organization had provided Stewart with a $500 cheque to help with costs as her life was changed by the cancer; as they do with others affected by the disease.
Rather than focusing on herself, Stewart uses the walk to educate women, especially because she feels Ponoka County has a higher than average ratio of women affected by breast cancer.
“I want to show you can’t completely depend on a mammogram,” she explained.
Before the lump in her breast was detected Stewart could see a visible change in her body, just by looking in the mirror.
She was working at a fishing lodge at the time and had to wait four weeks before she could get in for the mammogram.
“My message is be aware . . . You have to look in the mirror and see if there are visible signs of change.”
This month marks the 5th anniversary since Stewart’s last bout of cancer and her experiences remain a leading factor in her life. “I’m open to anyone and I’ve had lots of people call me just to talk about it as a support system.”
“I’ve just met the most beautiful people wherever I’ve gone. I can’t say it was the worst experience I’ve ever had. There were many blessings,” Stewart added.