A breast cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was thanks to hundreds of thousands of individuals who gather each year for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure.
Kamloops resident Gail Paradis is one of half a dozen women in her fundraising team who can count herself among breast cancer survivors.
Paradis was diagnosed four years ago and underwent a double mastectomy. And on Sunday, she gathered with over 1,200 others at Riverside Park in an effort to beat the disease - not for herself but for her granddaughters.
Participants in Kamloops walked or ran a one kilometre or a five-kilometre route and in so doing raised $187,034.
The top fundraising team in Kamloops, Sisters of the Heart, collected just shy of $20,000. Team captain Jacki Andersen, who celebrates her milestone fifth year as a survivor, collected half of that amount.
The support fundraisers received from their communities was mirrored in the emotional support in the park on Sunday.
Despite the tragedy of the disease, the mood was joyful, lively and even giddy.
"It's so uplifting," said Paradis, whose Gold's Guys and Gals team is among the top fundraisers in Kamloops with a total of more than $5,500.
Gail's husband Brian Paradis milled about wearing pink feathers and a t-shirt that read "I wear pink for my wife." Knowing there's a hereditary aspect to the disease, he also worries about his two daughters and three granddaughters, he said.
Although he's been involved in Run for the Cure in the past, his wife's diagnosis really brought the issue home for him.
"You never really get involved until it happens to you," he said.
Whether from Kamloops, Chase, Williams Lake, Barriere or elsewhere, all participants at Riverside Park wore the same t-shirt that read "I am running for…" and invited them to fill in the blank.
And every one of them had someone in their heart.
Run for the Cure has helped boost an increasingly positive trend in survival rates and in achieving the goal of eradicating breast cancer or making it a "manageable disease" by 2020, said Susan Ewanick of Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).
Death rates have reduced more than 30 per cent to a rate not seen since 1950, she said.
"We're making huge progress with all of your help and dedication," Ewanick told the crowd at Riverside Park.
When all was said and done, eight communities in B.C. saw 22,000 participants contribute $3.15 million. And across Canada, 59 communities raised more than $30 million.
"The ongoing success of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is attributed to thousands of dedicated volunteers who commit time, energy and resources to the cause," said Starr Webb, volunteer run co-director.
"For them, this isn't about a one-day event with thousands of participants," said co-director Margaret Webber. "This is one step in the journey towards a future when no one need fear a diagnosis of breast cancer."
All of the proceeds raised at the event in B.C. will remain in the province. And all funds support initiatives in prevention, early detection, treatment, research and emerging issues in the health care workforce.