As a social worker who has long been involved in her community, Joanne Stacey is a natural for her new role as a BRIGHT Run Community Connector.
“It’s what I do best, connecting many I have worked with over the years, as well as patients and others I have met who are interested in getting involved with the BRIGHT Run,” Joanne said.
“I am also mentoring others to do this and have enjoyed working with Lesley DeSousa (another Community Connector), as we visit businesses, stores and offices of those involved in the breast cancer issue,” she said.
Joanne is the captain of BRIGHT 2018 team The Graduates.
The Burlington mom of three and grandmother of three was diagnosed with Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on her 49th birthday in February 2009. She had a radical modified mastectomy a week later, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The only family member to have had a brush with breast cancer was Joanne’s mom, who had a lumpectomy in 2005.
“My family was shocked and worried about my diagnosis, but we embraced it, dealt with it and were glad to start our new journey ahead,” Joanne said. “I have always feared cancer, but I had a great outlook and felt very comforted and taken care of. I had so much support.”
Joanne had volunteered with breast cancer organizations prior to her diagnosis. She became very involved in her treatment, learning about her own cancer, breast cancer research and the work of the Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC).
She also wrote a book about her experience called Approaching Sunrise. The book is a sort of breast cancer survival guide — a positive, approachable guide for women navigating breast cancer treatment.
She had previously participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure, but after she heard about the BRIGHT Run, she knew she needed to be involved in the local fundraising event.
“I love where the funds go and the fact it stays in the community for research and to help us patients,” Joanne said. “That is the most important thing about the BRIGHT Run.”
Joanne says the response has been good among the businesses and organizations she has approached as a BRIGHT Run Community Connector.
“It was a great idea to get the brochures and posters out earlier in an effort to get others to commit earlier, as there are so many events,” she said of the new volunteer role.
“My hope is that we continue to heighten awareness of the BRIGHT Run, the programs at JCC and the resources available to women and their families,” she continued. “This diagnosis is life changing and affects a woman and her family. We need to provide the support from diagnosis to treatment and aftercare.”
Joanne says the BRIGHT Run and her breast cancer journey have been enlightening and empowering.
“I am blessed to have had the JCC and the many doctors, nurses, therapists and friends to get me through and encourage me to help continue their great work.”