Putting breast cancer in the dust

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A group of new runners has been taking to the trails over the summer to build up their stamina for the distance. It’s all in preparation for the upcoming Run for the Cure on Oct. 1.

The group, organized by the Running Room, offers the participants the training to run five kilometres, the length of the popular charity event. They have been getting a lot more out of it than just stamina, however.

“Their conversations are pretty interesting. There’s stuff that I haven’t had to deal with in a clinic before,” said organizer Warren Footz. “They talk about treatments. It’s just interesting to talk about the different drugs and different health issues that they have. Listening actually helps me to design what we’re going to do with the clinic and who I bring in for guest speakers.”

Since the summer, the group of 10 has been learning to run as part of this popular clinic, catered in this case towards this unique group. These women have either had breast cancer or have finished treatment, so meetings start off with guest presentations on diet, physiology, proper footwear and even bra fitting to offer a learning component before everyone sets off on the Red Willow trails. Footz has even brought in other breast cancer survivors to offer encouragement to the group.

Some of the best encouragement that they find is from each other.

“They say they have good days; they say they have bad days, but they think that it’s fantastic. I think it’s a wonderful way to meet other people as well who have gone through the same experience,” offered Christine Huellstrung, the running leader.

She isn’t a breast cancer survivor herself but she still has many reasons to see them succeed.

“I believe that everyone knows somebody that has had cancer,” she continued, quickly rattling off a list that included her grandparents, parents, aunts and an uncle, some of whom did not survive their cancer fights.

“I’ve had two aunts that have suffered through breast cancer. For women, they say that joining the group has been excellent to help them recover, to meet other women also.”

Learning to run sounds funny but it’s a serious subject. These beginners work their way up from running one minute and walking one minute to eventually get up to five-minute intervals, and longer. Some of them prefer to stick with walking and that’s okay too. It’s all about getting active and staying active, Footz said.

Of course, there’s the larger battle too. The Run for the Cure will see hundreds of participants on that Sunday morning. They are all showing their resilience while also bringing in pledges for the Canadian Cancer Foundation. Anyone can offer online donations by searching for ‘St.Albert Running Room Running Buddies’ at cibcrunforthecure.supportcbcf.com.

In its 20-year history, the run has seen nearly 100,000 participants in total, bringing in more than $17 million every year.

The support for research is phenomenal but Footz always knows the main underlying importance of getting survivors to make the distance.

“Just seeing the people cross the finish line for the first time … it’s quite inspiring.”

United Way kicks off campaign

The community organization announced its annual campaign launch on Thursday with its sights set on breaking the chain of poverty.

United Way works with over 50 funded partners and agencies, delivering more than 100 programs to support thousands of people who are struggling in poverty in the Alberta capital region.

“The truth is poverty holds us all back. But we also know that if we join together, we will create a different future. We will create a community where every person gets a chance to take a positive pathway out of poverty,” said Carman McNary, the campaign co-chair. To give extra incentive for people to offer their support for the cause, the Edmonton Community Foundation also announced that it was putting forward a $1.5 million grant to match donations at the leadership level.

People can make donations online at www.myunitedway.ca or by calling 780-990-1000.

Terry Fox Run a success

Last Sunday’s Terry Fox Run showed a marked increase in size, according to organizer Crystal King.

She noted that there was a 56 per cent increase in participation and a 10 per cent increase in funds raised with more than $10,000 coming to the Terry Fox Foundation. Since its inception in 1981, it has raised more than $700 million through events held all around the world.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.