Campbell River’s Loree Smith

Cancer survivor celebrates milestone

Loree Smith wanted to celebrate a remarkable milestone in a big way.

Loree Smith wanted to celebrate a remarkable milestone in a big way.

So she put on her walking shoes and trekked 60 kilometres around the Vancouver area.

“It was a way to celebrate 20 years of being cancer free,” said Smith, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37, with no family history of the disease.

To mark the happy occasion she participated in the annual Weekend to End Women’s Cancers benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation.

The walk, which took place over two days Aug. 13-14, began at the University of British Columbia and ended there each day after taking participants through several Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Smith describes the long journey as “exhilarating, exhausting and emotional.”

The home stretch presented the biggest challenge for Smith, who walked from Willow Point to the Tyee Spit three times a day to train for the walk.

“The challenging part for me came when I had 1.8 kilometres to go,” Smith said. “I developed tendinitis in my ankle and I had to put ice on it so I could finish.”

Smith also got to take  part in an emotional closing ceremonies where she, along with other cancer survivors, were honoured onstage.

“Just to see all the people who had defied the odds, it was pretty emotional,” Smith said.

Being around others who understand first-hand what it’s like to go through cancer was also special for Smith who never believed she would have to go through that kind of struggle.

“I was pretty shocked as I felt I was too young to have it at the time,” Smith said. “I had just met my future husband when I discovered I had cancer but he stuck with me so he’s a keeper for sure as far as I’m concerned.”

She also credits fundraisers such as the Women’s Weekend to End Cancer for improvements in cancer treatment and the shift in attitude towards cancer.

“Things have come a long way in the 20 years since I was treated and diagnosed with cancer,” Smith said. “I felt very isolated when I had it but people’s minds are more receptive and open today than 20 years ago.”

Since the Weekend started eight years ago, there has also been an increase in funding made available for research into women’s cancers. Before the event, women’s cancer research had received $200,000 from the BC Cancer Foundation but since then, $20 million has gone towards the cause, said the head of the BC Cancer Foundation.

“What has occurred since it started is phenomenal,” said Douglas Nelson, President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation. “Researchers in B.C. have discovered new gene mutations that will aid in diagnosis and treatment of cancers; they have shown that ovarian cancer is actually five distinct diseases (and) for the first time in history, all three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a breast cancer tumour were decoded.

Smith, who personally raised $2,445 through pledges, was especially glad to be a part of this year’s women’s cancer event, as this is walk’s final year in the existing format.

Just Posted

Eddy reflects on her first Campbell River school trustee campaign

‘I knew that SOGI would be an issue, but I didn’t realize that it would be the only issue’

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Cam Levins sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The 29-year-old from Black Creek, B.C., ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

Most Read