CHESTERMERE – You only get one shot at life so you better make the most of it. So goes the thoughts of one of our residents in Chestermere who has survived breast cancer. Cyndie McOuat was in the Chestermere Safeway store last Saturday, October 20th to share her breast cancer journey with customers and the media during Canada Safeway’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
McOuat received the devastating news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2007 and underwent 10 months of chemotherapy and radiation before being told she was cancer free. Her journey, however, didn’t end there. As you can well imagine there are a lot of thoughts running through your head during the treatment period and some are not so good. But McOuat stayed as positive as she could and she did that by joining, of all things, a dragon boat team. The dragon boat teams were inspired by the research of Canadian sports medicine specialist Don McKenzie. He believed that this activity would benefit breast cancer survivors as it provided strenuous upper body activity in an aesthetically pleasing and socially supportive environment. Survivors of breast cancer join together to paddle dragon boats to the benefit of their physical health and social wellbeing.
McOuat is one of the 60 team breast cancer survivors of the Dragon Boat racers where the training takes place 10 months of the year. She says “To my surprise, I signed up! I am by no means an athlete, and the first year was very tough! But I persevered and now have been with our team, the Twisted Sisters, for the past four years. Not only do our four medals prove hard work does pay off, but more importantly, our team gives hope to newly diagnosed women that there IS life after breast cancer”. Besides having the group train together, they also share their thoughts with one another and McOuat says that can make all the difference in the world to know that you’re not alone in your way of thinking; the comradery is invaluable.
The cancer opened a whole new world to McOuat. As a paralegal for the Crown Prosecutor during her day job, she now sits on the Board of Directors for the World Conference on Breast Cancer which will take place in Calgary in 2014. Her involvement with the breast cancer cause started as a volunteer for the Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure. She even threw out the first pitch at the Okotoks Dawgs “Wear Pink to the Park” event in support of the Foundation this past summer.
McOuat will be one of hundreds of Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation volunteers in Safeway stores across Western Canada during this campaign. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is pleased to have Canada Safeway as a community partner in creating a future without breast cancer. Awareness Day is an opportunity during the month-long, in-store campaign to focus on the impact breast cancer has on the lives of the over 22,000 Canadians diagnosed annually. Last year the Chestermere Safeway raised a total of $86,158 and so far this month, Chestermere shoppers have contributed $8600 for various charities. “Chestermere shoppers are awesome” said Kim, Safeway’s charity captain. A dollar here and there certainly adds up over the year. Over $9.6 million has been raised by Canada Safeway for the Canadian Breast Cancer Safeway charity campaigns include Muscular Dystrophy, Prostate Cancer Breast Cancer, the Special Olympics and Easter Seals.