For a group of Squamish women, the statistics are simply unacceptable. According to the National Cancer Institute of Canada, about 21,100 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 5,400 will die from the disease.
In an effort to decrease these numbers in breast cancer victims, five local ladies have pledged their support to Vancouver's first-ever Weekend to End Breast Cancer.
The weekend, which takes place from Aug. 20-22, features thousands of volunteer fund raisers who will walk a total of 60 km. over two days in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.
The monumental walk throughout the streets of Vancouver is taking place to honour loved ones lost to the disease, to celebrate the many brave survivors of breast cancer, and to help bring breast cancer researchers closer to a cure.
"It's a huge commitment both ways," said Squamish organizer Clo-Anne Morasse, "to raise the money and to participate in the walk - but we're all doing it because we care."
The event is being billed as no ordinary weekend, and it's no ordinary fundraiser either. Participants must first pay a $75 registration fee to enter, and then must fulfill their promise to raise a minimum of $2,000 each in donations.
Last year in Toronto, more than $12.5 million was raised, with an average of $3,100 per person."I'm a 10-year breast cancer survivor and I have daughters, friends and clients who could potentially be diagnosed with cancer as well, but I don't want them to have to go through it," said Morasse. "I want it to stop."
So far, a group of five women in Squamish have signed on in support of the massive event. Morasse, Lail Weeks, Shannon Allen, Wendy Gray and Andrea Fischer have all started to collect pledges and spread the word.
"We have a pretty high rate of breast cancer in Squamish," said Weeks, a past-president of the Squamish Cancer Society and coordinator for a volunteers driver program for cancer patients in Squamish. "It's important that we all work together to stop it, because almost everybody, in one way or another, has been touched by breast cancer."
The women have also started walking three to four times a week throughout different parts of the community, in preparation for the 60 km. walk, and encourage others to join the cause, and Team Squamish.
"I'm walking in memory of my grandma," said Allen. "She passed away last year from cancer so I'm doing this for her."
Weeks is also a breast cancer survivor, now in her seventh year of healthy living after overcoming the disease. Because of her involvement in cancer-related activities throughout Squamish, the weekend is of special importance.
"I'm a breast cancer survivor and also a member of Abreast in a Boat," she said. "We've had teammates who have survived breast cancer but had gotten it again and died - so I'm walking for them."
Team Squamish will also be hosting several upcoming fundraisers in the community. A garage sale is set for June 26 (location to be determined), and a beer and burger night at the Grizzly Pub on July 10 will feature local band Davy's Locker.
If you are interested in registering, volunteering, participating or donating, call Clo-Anne Morasse at 604-815-7076, visit www.endcancer.ca or call 1-800-684-WALK.