Max Andruik

Survivors appreciate their lives more deeply

Having breast cancer gave Barb Dreichel and Janet Johnston a new zeal for life.

Having breast cancer gave Barb Dreichel and Janet Johnston a new zeal for life.

The survivors who participated in Sunday’s 12th annual CIBC Run for the Cure in Red Deer say they learned to have a deeper appreciation for their life.

Dreichel of Pigeon Lake learned she had cancer in 2011 after an annual mammogram revealed a lump in her right breast.

“You’re devastated for a while,” said Dreichel, 58. “You can sit home and feel sorry for yourself — or you can put a smile on your face and continue on. And that’s what I did.”

Dreichel underwent two lumpectomies, chemotherapy and radiation and will be taking drug treatments over the next several years. She said she appreciates life more, and doesn’t take things so seriously.

“And you realize what wonderful friends you have,” said Dreichel, who underwent treatment in Camrose. “It hasn’t been as devastating an experience as I thought it would be.”

Dreichel was joined by 14 friends who named themselves “Barb’s Beavy of Beauties.”

Debbie Bailer of Pigeon Lake said most of the women have known each other since elementary school. No one else in the group has been diagnosed with cancer, but they’ve all been touched by it in some way, said the nurse.

“It’s so important that we have local cancer clinics so that people don’t have to drive to the big, big centres.”

Johnston, 59, of Red Deer, has a similar story about the kind of support she’s received.

About 20 of her friends and family became the JUGG’S team. This is Johnston’s 12th year of being cancer free.

“You enjoy every day of your life because you never know what can happen,” said Johnston, a grandmother of five. “This is something that I wasn’t expected to have. My family has no history of breast cancer and one day I found a lump.”

Johnston said she’s been “surviving” ever since, and even at diagnosis, she planned her daughter’s wedding.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s event ran at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.

Since 2001, the Red Deer event, which is a one or five-km walk or run, has collected almost $2 million for the foundation.

The Red Deer run attracted 1,235 participants — up by about 300 from last year. Donations as of Sunday totalled $256,636, also ahead of last year’s tally on run day.

Lois Moreau, co-director of the Red Deer Run, said this year’s Survivor tent was created with the theme of Life is Sweet. The booth included everything from bubble gum to teddy bears.

“It seems like we’re seeing survivors more and more,” she said.

“It seems like every time I talk to somebody, they have someone who has been newly diagnosed and is just going through the process.”

Since 2001, the Red Deer Run, which is a one or five-km walk or run, has collected almost $2 million for the Breast Cancer Foundation.

This is the foundation’s largest single-day, volunteer-led event in Canada.

Red Deer’s record was in 2010 when $318,000 was raised.

The national fundraiser supports research and community health grants towards breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.

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