The global pandemic is changing everything we do, but remember, cancer is not going away.  Despite the emergence of COVID19, the annual Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) CIBC Run for the Cure supporting breast cancer research will take place this year as a virtual event Sunday, October 4th. The CCS needs continued support to fund new scientific and clinical cancer research directed at saving lives.  A team of hockey moms from the Halton Hills area concur.

Last year, a group of moms connected by their sons being born in 2003 and involved in home town hockey, formed the ‘03 Hockey Moms Care team as a fun way to get together altruistically.  Ironically, the moms have an uncanny connection to breast cancer affecting multiple team members, thus the motivation to raise awareness and support breast cancer research is strong in the group.  In 2019, ‘03 Hockey Moms Care raised an impressive $7000 for the CCS. Adhering to social distancing rules, the ‘03 Hockey Moms Care team hopes they can get together and do the event this year, again at the Blue Mountain Village.

Team leader Kim Stubberfield, mother of two, hockey mom and a long time CIBC Run for the Cure supporter, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. In previous events, Kim wore the white t-shirt as event participant, but now Kim wears a pink t-shirt signifying she is a cancer survivor.  “I was terrified of wearing pink in the race. Pink is not my colour even as a little girl!”  For Kim, the colour pink triggers anxiety. With all 27 hockey moms by her side, Kim maintains she can handle it. 

In 2015, at age 39, Kim found a lump during a self-exam. For two years, annual mammograms were negative despite the lump and Kim was told it was just a cyst. In 2017, the lump hardened and an MRI revealed a tumor. Following biopsy, Kim was

diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer, a common subtype that responds well to hormone therapy with high survival rates.

Recent screening guidelines proposed by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, designed to guide medical practitioners, state women between the ages of 40-49 do not need mammograms. The guidelines also state they don’t recommend physical breast exams, done by the woman herself or her doctor, because evidence suggests breast self-examination has no impact on breast cancer mortality. Yet, more than 130 oncologists disagree.  “They’re based on studies from the 1960s,” said Martin Yaffe, researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. “Those studies were conducted using screening methods that we don’t use anymore.” Upon seeing this article, Kim states, “This infuriates me” and she asserts it is important for young women to perform a self-check.

In an attempt to remain positive and avoid the dreaded “C” word, Kim and her family embark on “Project Assassinate C”. The project checklist includes a daunting 94 medical appointments, 25 rounds of radiation, 13 IVs, 10 blood tests, 6 rounds of chemo, 4 radiation tattoos, 2 biopsies, 2 MRIs, 1 mammogram, 1 genetic test, 1 CT scan, 1 bone scan, and 1 mastectomy.  After two years of being poked and prodded, Kim now proclaims, “Today I can finally say Project Assassinate C is completed!”

Kim says, “I lost my hair, I lost my boob, and after a year cancer free I decided to get a tattoo on my own terms.” Kim’s tattoo is the slogan #MomStrong, which her son penned following her first round of chemo.

The numbers are staggering, every day 70 Canadian women will hear the words “You have breast cancer.”  The CIBC Run for the Cure is helping make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians affected by cancer but much research is still needed. Visit http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/03hockeymomscare to help ‘03 Hockey Moms Care achieve their fundraising goal. Your contribution could lead to the next breakthrough!

Submitted by: Dr. Oliver Kent, Scientific Associate and cancer researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

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