Jamie Carswell and her father Rob are trying to deliver a knockout blow to cancer.
The Red Deer Boxing Club, which Rob is the founder and president of, is hosting its second annual Rumble in Red Deer, an amateur fight card that helps raise funds to fight the disease.
Part of the proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Young Adult Cancer Canada, a national support group Jamie has relied on since being diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2008 when she was just 23 years old.
Approximately 20 other young adults facing cancer will join Jamie in the ring during the halftime break to bring awareness to the fact that those between the ages of 18 and 39 are not immune to the disease.
“I want everyone to know that young adults can get cancer,” said Jamie, who at 26 is still in treatment.
“And I want for those young adults that have cancer that are alone to realize there is something out there for them. There is someone they can talk to or reach out to.”
Jamie, who was a competitive boxer as a teenager, was training to become a RCMP officer when push-ups caused excruciating pain in her left breast.
A doctor told her it was a torn muscle so Jamie continued to work through the pain for six months although she believed it could be something more as there was a lump. She underwent a series of tests following her RCMP graduation and it was determined that she did indeed have breast cancer, something considered rare in young individuals.
Rob called his daughter a “freak of nature” as she has the disease despite leading a healthy lifestyle, being young and having no trace of breast cancer in her family history.
Receiving the news was at first a little shocking, Jamie said, but she also felt relieved as she could move on and fight the cancer.
Diagnosed when she was living in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., Jamie returned home to Red Deer and started six months of chemotherapy. She also underwent radiation in Edmonton and had two mastectomies to remove both her breasts in Calgary. She has since started to have reconstructive surgery and remains on medication.
Jamie said it was her training in boxing that helped her to keep going even when things got tough.
“Boxing is what taught me to fight for my life and to keep healthy,” she said.
Attending a Young Adult Cancer Canada retreat in Montreal helped Jamie realize she’s not fighting alone.
She admitted to sometimes feeling forgotten as there tends to be a misconception that the disease doesn’t impact those under at least the age 40.
“When I got there, I didn’t realize I needed to find someone else like me,” she said. “I didn’t have a clue that I needed someone to talk to, I thought I had it all figured out.”
“But when I had someone to talk to I felt awesome. They actually got what I was talking about, which I wasn’t use to.”
Having experienced first hand how important such a support system is, the Carswell family decided to donate to Young Adult Cancer Canada this year instead of towards cancer research as they did last year. Together, they raised about $18,000 over a 12-month period for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, with some of that money raised during the inaugural Rumble in Red Deer.
“Funding is needed for a cure,” Rob said. “But funding is also needed for support groups because it is devastating on any individual or any family that this happens to.”
And while she is now slowly starting to box and work at the Red Deer Rural RCMP detachment again, Jamie hopes Rumble in Red Deer will ultimately help people understand what young cancer patients face.
“We’re in for the fight of our lives,” she explained.
Rumble in Red will be held at the Capri Exhibition Hall May 8 from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The event will see the top amateur boxer be awarded the Carswell Cup. White collar boxing will also be showcased, as competitors step out of the office to square off in the ring after only 12 weeks of training.
The event sold out last year, and both father and daughter expect it to again this year as they agreed Rumble in Red Deer offers an entertaining and quality show.
Tickets are available online at www.rumbleinreddeer.com or at the Red Deer Boxing Club.
Call 403-304-5400 for more information.