Monday 4 July 2016

Pink Ribbon Project Thank You ~ The Ripple Effect

It's taken a little time to sit down to write this thank you....In the days that follow PRP I find that I need to regroup , reflect on the evening and move forward when I have the clarity to share what the event means to us,  and what actually comes to fruition through it, beyond just a final tally of the dollars and cents. 

photo credits: Jessica Surgenor Photography
Find full photo gallery here:
This year's Pink Ribbon Project was an especially tough one for me. With the progression of my Mom's breast cancer and the knowledge we gained in May of it's spread to her liver, there were days I found it difficult to focus on the details that need to be taken care of to bring this event to life. The reality of her battle weighed heavily on all of us as the event drew closer. She started her first round of chemo, which will now continue indefinitely just days before PRP. Knowing that we had organizations that depend on us and all of our guests to take care of gave me something else to focus my energy on and knowing what the night would bring; the energy in the room that gives love and support to those who need it allowed me to move forward with purpose. I am so grateful for that. 

We all know the  stat...1 in 9 Canadian women will face a breast cancer diagnosis. If it hasn't already, this disease will touch your life in some way. When you attend or support PRP in some way, do not underestimate the effect that has. Through the Pink Ribbon Project we are impacting each and every one of the women that will face this disease by supporting the  organizations that are on the front lines; funding research for early detection,  life saving & extending treatment and fighting for the best possible care for breast cancer patients.  You are making that possible.

This year the Pink Ribbon Project raised $21,000 to be shared between the Canadian Breast Cancer Network and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. On behalf of the PRP committee and the Full Circle Foundation I want to thank each and every person that supported PRP 3 in some way; we are truly humbled by the continued support of this event. Every year our partners and sponsors put their trust in us and give generously to make this event a reality. It would be impossible without them and we will be forever grateful.

If you read our blog posts leading up to Pink Ribbon Project or attended the event, you know that our focus this year was sharing, " Why We PRP....." In the months leading up to the event more and more reasons kept coming to light; not only as things changed for our committee and we found ourselves re-focusing but as people found us, reached out  and allowed us to start to feel the effects of what we have been doing the past 3 years. As people reached out, we began to see that our overriding reasons for Why We PRP actually encompassed every situation we experienced and made it clear that we are taking steps in the right direction. Educate, Advocate, Donate.....

Through  different mediums; social media, our blog, print and  educational materials we worked to shine a light on stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer to further  awareness and understanding of what a stage 4 diagnosis truly means. Our focus has always been to educate ourselves and others and we learned so much through this process. People have been reaching out to share with us what they have learned about metastatic breast cancer, what they didn't know, and how they will be more aware moving forward. For those of you who have shared, thank you. For me, knowing that we have reached even one person gives me more peace of mind.  Its too late for me to go back, to  know what I know now about stage 4 but I can move forward and share that information with others.  

We  specifically wanted to reach  women who have already faced breast cancer in the past and are living their lives with a cancer free status. We wanted them and everyone who loves them to be aware that 30% of them will have their breast cancer return as metastatic. Not to live their life in fear; but to tuck away this bit of information and be able to retrieve it if and when they have persistent, worsening symptoms that may even 
seem unrelated to their previous breast cancer battle. Live with hope, health and happiness but have the information to fall back on. We wanted their family to have  that little voice reminding them of what they know about metastatic breast cancer so that nothing catches them off guard. I used to wish every minute, of every day that I had figured it out sooner; that something would have clicked for me instantly, telling me that my Mom's breast cancer was back. How could I not have put the pieces together? I know now, that I couldn't put the pieces together because I didn't have them all. That puzzle couldn't be solved by me because I didn't know enough. Through PRP we are making sure that others have all the pieces. 

 The steps we have taken as a committee to get more involved in advocacy work have opened a door to both information and action steps. For me, I no longer feel frozen by fear. I know that there are steps I can take that may or may not change things for my family but may change the future for others. Through this new focus we have met others that have needed access to the information we have, or  to be directed to the resources we have accessed through our partnerships. One of the most humbling experiences I have had came to me by way of PRP as we welcomed a new friend and had the opportunity to hear her story, share resources with her and help her, if nothing else to know that she is not alone; that we are fighting for her too!

We are working hard  to have our concerns heard at both a provincial and federal level regarding access to treatments for stage 4 patients. With the guidance of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network and your support we are able to focus our energy in this area and we will not stop until we see equitable access for all breast cancer patients in Canada. Women with metastatic breast cancer are dying while they wait 2-4 years to access new treatments. This is shocking and unacceptable and we must continue to advocate for change. For my Mom and all other breast cancer patients with stage 4, this is a life or death battle and we will continue stand beside them, demanding change. 

When you support PRP you are allowing us to direct funds to organizations we feel are having the most impact on research and patient care. For us it has to be both. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has recently made a commitment to fund more research that is specific to metastatic breast cancer. We look forward to seeing which projects will be funded and the outcomes of them . The Canadian Breast Cancer Network continues to advocate for the best care possible for all Canadians facing breast cancer and strives to shine a light on metastatic breast cancer. We are honoured to support the work of both of these organizations and are thankful for the partnerships we have built with them and will continue to build in the future.

Three years into PRP we are starting to see the ripple effect of this event. It's one night....9 hours to be exact where we have a chance to educate, advocate and donate....but the effects of that are starting to reach further and further each year. We don't know what will happen tomorrow but we know that within our community, if someone is looking for support, information, a friend who truly understands what they are facing or someone who will fight for them as they go through their own journey with breast cancer, that they know where to look. We know because we have experienced the ripples more and more each year. Keep reaching out to us if you need support ~ We are here. And for those of you that have supported PRP;  you are creating the ripple effect, keep sharing our stories, our work and what you experience when you attend PRP. You never know what the effect of that might be.

The support you show us through PRP means more than we can ever paraphrase what my sister, Tara said during her speech that night...Never underestimate what it means when you show up for someone who needs you. In what ever way you choose to show up,  please keep doing it.  In this journey we are on with our Mom,  you are the good. You are giving us the strength that we need to keep going; no matter what the future holds. 

You make it possible for us to fight for our Mom, and for all the those who have faced  breast cancer and for those who will face it in the future. I refuse to be paralyzed by fear and helplessness, I choose to keep moving forward, wearing the support of our Pink Ribbon Project family as armour around my heart, which is full of hope. 

~ Carmen 

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe I have not had time to read this brfore now. Well written Carmen. So proud of all of you and the difference you are making.
    Auntie Carol