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'You can get through it'

Those who attend the annual Luncheon of Hope and who make regular donations to breast cancer research are helping more than they'll ever know, according to breast and pancreatic cancer survivor Libby Znaimer.
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Libby Znaimer, a breast and pancreatic cancer survivor, was the guest speaker at the annual Luncheon of Hope Sept. 30. She is the author of a book called Cancerland, which recounts her experiences with cancer. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

Those who attend the annual Luncheon of Hope and who make regular donations to breast cancer research are helping more than they'll ever know, according to breast and pancreatic cancer survivor Libby Znaimer.

Znaimer was this year's guest speaker at the Northern Cancer Research Foundation's 13th annual Luncheon of Hope Sept. 30 at the Caruso Club.

Hundreds of people, men and women, dressed in pink for the occasion, which celebrates contributions to innovative cancer research activities that are making an impact on the world stage.

Libby Znaimer, a breast and pancreatic cancer survivor, was the guest speaker at the annual Luncheon of Hope Sept. 30. She is the author of a book called Cancerland, which recounts her experiences with cancer. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

Libby Znaimer, a breast and pancreatic cancer survivor, was the guest speaker at the annual Luncheon of Hope Sept. 30. She is the author of a book called Cancerland, which recounts her experiences with cancer. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

The Luncheon of Hope is an important fundraiser for breast cancer research, Maureen Lacroix, chair of the Northern Cancer Research Foundation, said. Northern Life is the platinum sponsor for the event. 

This year's luncheon cooked up $46,000, bringing the total of the 13-year campaign close to $500,000. 

“It's an interesting event, because we invite speakers who have had their own experiences with cancer and they tell their stories and how they dealt with it,” she said.

“This event is a way to support and remember those who are dealing either directly or indirectly with cancer, and to acknowledge the staff at the cancer centre who continue to help fight the battle.”

Znaimer is a Canadian journalist specializing in health, arts and lifestyles issues. Her resume includes contributions to the Globe and Mail and National Post. She is also the national spokesperson for Pancreatic Cancer Canada.
Znaimer inked her first book, In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge in October 2007.

Her mission was go deliver a message of hope, and to touch on how far treatment has come. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and two years later, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which usually is deadly.

“Because of the things they knew about me from my bout with breast cancer, they were able to give me personalized treatment that saved my life,” Znaimer said. “In turn, what they learned through my treatment helped save the lives of other people who didn't have such a good prognosis.”

Znaimer said she wasn't surprised to learn she had breast cancer. Her own mother battled the same disease when she was in her 40s, and she eventually died a “painful and difficult” death from ovarian cancer.

There are many more treatments available today than there were 20 years ago, thanks to the advancements through research, Znaimer said, which is why it's “critical to support research, and to get out the message that this happens to many people.”

Znaimer advised those with cancer to allow themselves to feel what they feel, because it isn't healthy to try to put on a brave front and have a positive attitude if that's not the way a cancer patient feels.

“If it happens to you or a loved one, take a deep breath, because you can get through it,” she added.

The Luncheon of Hope is one of the foundation's main fundraisers, and it's a sold-out event every year, Lacroix said.

The foundation plays host to five signature fundraising events throughout the year, but there is a number of other events where people from the community come forward and raise money for research efforts, because their own lives have been touched by the deadly disease.

“There is always more that needs to be done, but lately there has been some incredible discoveries related to breast cancer,” Lacroix said. For example, the length of time people are able to live healthily after treatment has definitely increased, she said, and there is always more news like this coming out.

“In time, I think it will get to the point where we beat this.”

At the luncheon, Mayor Marianne Matichuk declared October as Breast Cancer and Breast Care Awareness Month.

The NCRF was formed in an effort to support cancer research and cancer care programs of the Regional Cancer Program of Sudbury Regional Hospital. Since its inception, it has treated about 10,000 patients for breast cancer.

-Posted by Heidi Ulrichsen




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