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Teaming up to fight cancer
It's hitting the ground running.
Surrey's first Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure Event this Sunday at Bear Creek Park is a success – even before a single foot is set on the five-kilometre course.
According to Debi Rumley – a founder of the well-known and respected Nite of Hope fundraiser and a member of Team Torrie, supporting runner Torrie Thomsen – there were more than 900 participants registered a week before the event, which should mean more than 1,000 by the day.
"That means some $100,000 in funds raised before we even start the run," she said.
The heartwarming response from area residents also means the event will be the third largest in B.C., after the runs in Vancouver and Victoria.
"And they've been doing it for 20-plus years," she said. "I'm so grateful we have had such an immediate response, but given my experience with Nite of Hope, I'm not surprised. People in Surrey are great, and they will really get behind something like this."
Rumley, herself a breast cancer survivor, said she is happy to be supporting Thomsen, 29, who was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago.
Some 26 people are running, and raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundations activities in B.C., as part of her team, Thomsen said.
"There are a lot of family, a lot of friends, but there are people registered to run I've never met, and that's wonderful," Thomsen said.
"There's a lot of community that's coming together for this."
The healthy-looking – and always physically active – Semiahmoo Secondary alumnus is one of an increasing number of young women who are dramatically altering the statistics of what used to be considered "a middle-aged woman's disease."
"I was diagnosed on Sept. 17, 2012," Thomsen said, adding that she is glad she heeded the foundation's message to take self-examination seriously.
"I discovered it through finding a lump on my breast. I thought it was probably nothing but I went to the doctor and it was only a week after that the diagnosis came – it all happened extremely fast."
Thomsen said the impact of hearing that one has breast cancer cannot be overstated.
"It does have a huge impact on a woman's life and on her whole family," she acknowledged.
But she credits a "wonderfully direct" doctor and the support of local hospital staff for launching her immediately on a "road map" for treatment and recovery.
"I'd say they have the process down to an art form," she said.
"Fortunately, with my breast cancer there were a lot of treatment options, particularly because we caught it so soon. He was very hopeful and that made me very hopeful too."
But the road can never be easy. Thomsen was only recently married to her husband Kellan, and one of the many things she's had to contemplate is what impact chemotherapy would have on her ability to have children.
Opting to have a full mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she also chose the chemotherapy route after optimistic results of fertility tests.
Speaking to the Peace Arch News this week at the conclusion of a 28-day course of chemotherapy treatments, Thomsen was clearly optimistic about the future and a full recovery – an optimism that is buoyed by the tremendous support she has received from friends and family and the community – including the boys of a teen minor hockey league team her husband coaches who were fundraising as soon as they heard of her diagnosis.
"I can tell you for a fact, the first thing you think is 'oh God, is this really happening' but the second thing is thank God for organizations like the CBCF. Their support is working, all of the awareness campaigns are working and all of the fundraising is making a difference.
"I feel very, very fortunate to be sitting here."
To register, volunteer or donate, visit www.runforthecure.com