Sunday October 5th, 2014, marked the 23rd annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. On this day 127,000 participants, donors and volunteers came together and raised over $25 million for innovative breast cancer research, health education, and advocacy initiatives throughout Canada. Melanie Picard was one of these dedicated supporters and CBCF would like to share her inspirational story to celebrate the passion and dedication she brought to the CIBC Run for the Cure in 2014. Melanie was the top fundraiser at the Sudbury Run site, raising a total of $3,022 in 2014.
Melanie was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 20th, 2013, on her daughter’s seventh birthday and eight days before a scheduled family trip to Australia. She was 38 years old and had no family history of cancer. Like so many young women, Melanie believed she was far too young to get breast cancer. She led a healthy lifestyle, and she had breast fed both of her children. Upon further testing, Melanie was advised that the lump was invasive breast cancer on her left breast and then discovered she had pre-cancerous cells on her right breast; she was completely stunned. After this discovery her life changed forever. On December 28th, 2013, she travelled to Australia for three weeks and on January 24th, 2014, she had a bilateral mastectomy.
Her recovery after the mastectomy went very well. As a registered physiotherapist, she knew the importance of exercise after surgery. Two weeks post-surgery, her mobility was improving and six weeks post-surgery she was able to start practicing yoga again. Once her adjuvant treatment plan was determined, Melanie started the reconstructive process. She was lucky to have a wonderful plastic surgeon named Dr. B. Beber from Women's College Hospital. Together, they decided on the tissue expander type of reconstruction, which was completed over a period of a few months in two surgical phases. She planned to have the last surgery three days after the CIBC Run for the Cure, as it was very important for her to be able to attend.
After setting up her fundraising page and receiving ample support from family and friends, Melanie decided she wanted to lead the warm up for all participants at the Sudbury Run site. She was excited to participate and since she is a physiotherapist and yoga instructor, she felt compelled to share her knowledge of fitness with the participants. Volunteering is very important to Melanie, and she also believes that life should be lived to its fullest, even after diagnoses, treatment and recovery. She would like to share the message that breast cancer does not discriminate and is no longer ‘your grandmother or mother’s disease’. Young women are also being affected, so it is important be breast aware; and to know how your breasts normally look and feel, and what changes to check for and discuss with a health care provider.
For information on how you can become a CIBC Run for the Cure volunteer, please contact Emily Isaak or 1-866-373-6313 ext. 335.