Maureen Holloway has a strategy for getting through the struggle and turmoil that comes with cancer -- take a lighthearted approach to a heavy situation.
“If you can find the humour, and help other people find the humour, it puts everything in perspective,” Holloway said. “There’s no better way to fight fear than through laughter, no matter what your particular challenge is.”
More than 600 people filled the banquet halls at the Victoria Inn on Friday for the annual Tbaytel Luncheon of Hope to come together and share stories of perseverance and survival, one of which was Holloway’s. The broadcaster and cancer survivor was this year's Luncheon of Hope keynote speaker.
Praising the luncheon, Holloway added that the speeches and events centred around breast cancer also helps remove stigma surrounding a cancer diagnoses.
The luncheon is just one part of the Exceptional Cancer Care campaign throughout the month of October to help raise awareness about breast cancer.
This year’s campaign has put an emphasis upon survivors of breast cancer, and putting a face in front of breast cancer.
One such survivor is Nina Ruberto, who also spoke at the luncheon. She was diagnosed with breast cancer immediately after her 40th birthday, something she did not consider possible.
Part of the reason she considers participating in these events to be so important is to encourage people to get checked out if they are suspicious.
“I just wanted to spread the word,” Ruberto said. “I wouldn’t have gotten a mammogram until I was 50, and I wouldn’t have made it to my 50th birthday.”
In addition to providing inspiration and awareness, the luncheon also serves as a critical fundraiser for cancer care throughout Thunder Bay and the surrounding region.
Glenn Craig, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation said the organization is raising money to bring in linear accelerators to bring in the latest technology in radiation therapy, as well as a new integrated mobile screening coach.
“We’re really trying to raise funds to take our cancer care that we have in the city and northwestern Ontario to the next level,” Craig said. “That is a really important fundraiser for us, not only in terms of the dollars it raises but it’s really a high profile awareness event.”
Craig added the goal to bring in the accelerators and mobile screening coach, which would also help detect cervical and colorectal cancer, to be $5.9 million and the organization has to date raised over $3 million.
As for Ruberto, she recently got a clean bill of health, as she was told she is cancer-free.
This ends a two-year battle for her, and means she can get back to her life.
“I just about collapsed, because I’ve gone through so much and it was just a sense of relief for me,” she said. “There’s no better feeling. I felt like my life started again that day.”
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