Am I doing retirement all wrong? I’m as busy now as I ever was while I was working for a living.
I loved my working life. It was interesting, challenging and very satisfying. But this new busyness is fulfilling in a different, emotionally deeper way and it gives me the opportunity to give back to the strong community at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, the institution that got me through breast cancer.
I chair the executive committee of the Bright Run, which raises money for research at our cancer centre. Sept. 7 marks the sixth annual 5k/1k walk or run at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
In its first five years, the Bright Run has raised $1.6 million and has supported 10 clinical studies. Clinical studies are important because they explore and examine new ways to prevent and treat breast cancer. Certainly there is research money out there from a range of institutions, but the competition for funds is fierce. One of the many beauties of the Bright Run is that the funds we raise in our community stay in our community to fund work by our medical professions.
Take radiation oncologist Dr. Lynn Chang, who completed a clinical study looking at risk factors for breast cancer recurrence after post-mastectomy radiation treatment. Or RN Margaret Forbes and Dr. Raimond Wong, who will study whether using acupuncture-like electrical stimulation will reduce hot flashes among breast cancer patients.
The Bright Run doesn’t happen by magic. It takes months to put together and a very dedicated band of volunteers, most of them medical professionals from the JCC, to do the behind-the-scenes work that makes the event exciting, inspiring and just plain fun.
That $1.6 million raised so far through the event doesn’t happen by magic either. Every year, teams and individuals – about 1,000 medical folks, patients and former patients, their families and friends – tap into their creativity and their belief in the importance of the work at JCC to wheedle, cajole and graciously accept donations from anyone and everyone they know.
They hold bake sales and raffles, have jewelry parties and garage sales. They are people like Bonny-Lynn Hamilton, a four-and-a-half-year survivor who comes up with Brighter ideas every year and has the T-shirts to prove it. Or Deanna Behnke-Cook, a woman of unbelievable energy, a mother of five and university professor, who finished breast cancer treatment within the past year and has thrown herself into the Bright cause.
While my retirement is perhaps not as serene as I anticipated, it is full and it is fun. Check us out at www.brightrun.ca or on facebook to find out how you can join our fun.
— Breast cancer survivor Nancy McMillan is a retired banking professional, the chair of the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation and the chair of the Bright Run 2013 organizing committee.