No one will forget March 2020 when the world as we knew it was shut down. COVID also shut down an important event that supports breast cancer patients in Ottawa — OlymPINK Masters Challenge, a swim meet fundraiser that has raised over $133K in three short years.
When we launched OlymPINK in 2018, the dream was to build a unique fundraising event dedicated to helping the Ottawa Hospital’s Breast Health Centre better serve the needs of the 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Ottawa each year.
In 2020, the meet was cancelled but with the amazing support of our swim community we had already raised $70K before the plug was pulled. That meant 3 years of fundraising efforts raised over $133K in total and allowed us to outfit an ultrasound room in the Breast Health Centre.
This year, OlymPINK is proud to partner with the Ottawa Cancer Foundation to support breast screening priorities at the Ottawa Hospital’s Rose Ages Breast Health Centre. Your support will also help fund some of the important resources offered at the Ottawa Cancer Foundation to support women on their breast cancer journey.
So what the heck is OlymPINK anyway? It’s a swim meet for Masters’ swimmers WITH a special ceremonial swim of 6 Olympians along with breast cancer survivors. And after being shuttered for 2 years, we are SO excited to announce we’ll be back on April 15th at Brewer Pool.
While most of us can’t say we’ve been to the Olympics, likely none of us can say they haven’t been affected by breast cancer — either personally or through a loved one or friend or neighbour.
Andrea D’s Story
I found a lump on May 22, 2014. Strangely enough, I felt it as my hand brushed along the side of my left breast while changing into a bathing suit….to go to Master’s swimming.
Thus began my slow maze of fear.
A mammogram and ultrasound came 7 days later. Eight more days till a biopsy, 3 more till an MRI and another week until I received the final diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My first meeting with my breast cancer oncology surgeon took place June 20th and it would be another 3.5 weeks until my operation on July 16th.
A month of uncertainty. 29 days. 696 hours. 42,000 very slowly ticking minutes until I knew what was going on. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I had the rock star of oncology surgeons remove that 2.6cm lump with clear margins and there was no lymph
Still, I needed 4 rounds of chemo, 21 days of radiation and will be on meds to suppress hormones for years to come. Now I want to help the thousands of women who follow me, because they will. For me, it’s important to direct our philanthropic donations to support breast cancer care and research locally – where we live, and where we receive care. I want to invest in health care here at home where my family, friends and neighbours will continue to benefit directly. I have a dream to help make this happen.
Why I’m swimming for breast cancer:
- I’m not special. My cancer journey story is not a particularly unusual one. And maybe that’s the point. When 1 in 8 women in Ottawa will face this diagnosis, I hardly stand out in the crowd. I’m a Mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter. And at B-TRAiN Swimming, I’m a lane mate.
- The Terry Fox Marathon of Hope started around a kitchen table. My OlymPINK swim meet fundraiser started in a lane of Brewer Pool. Like Terry Fox, I have been powerfully touched by a terrible disease, but I have also been embraced by the hope and support that comes from medical advances and tender loving care.
- I feel a sense of responsibility that comes with being one of the “lucky” ones. And that’s why I’m raising funds for the Ottawa Cancer Foundation. Because technology, earlier screening, and more research means one less woman faces this disease, and the programs offered by the Ottawa Cancer Foundation support women who are going through their cancer journey. Stopping this disease in its tracks sooner is worth every penny. The problem is there aren’t enough pennies in our health care system for all the technologies that can make a difference, so it’s up to us!
- Joining me in my dream of this swim fundraiser are many former Olympian swimmers. Because they get it. You don’t reach the Olympics without a dream, without dedication, without a lot of hard work and without a team of support around you. And that’s what you need to beat cancer. A dream of better and harder working technology, better and earlier screening, and more support for women who walk through their journey of breast cancer. For your Mom, your sister, your wife…your swim buddy.