When Lauren Larocque first found out her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, her world turned upside down.

“It was really hard,” said the Ottawa resident. “We had to change the way we lived and take it day by day, especially in the first year, when she had treatment.”

To show their support, Larocque and her friend, Courtney Pigeon, decided to take part in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, a 60-kilometre walk that, in Ottawa, raises money for breast cancer programs and initiatives in eastern Ontario.

These days, Larocque’s mother is cancer-free, but the friends, now 18-year-old Carleton University students, are preparing to walk the event for a third time. But this year, instead of only helping the breast cancer cause, they’ll be helping all women’s cancers.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Larocque. “It will help other people affected by these cancers as well.”

The young women were two of several dozen people raising awareness for the new Weekend to End Women’s Cancers at the St. Laurent Centre yesterday.

President and CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation Linda Eagen hopes that by expanding the fight to include all women’s cancers, the event will impact the lives of more people.

Research shows that breast cancer is linked with other cancers, Eagen said. One in seven Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast or a gynecologic cancer in their lifetimes.

“Everyday, in eastern Ontario, 16 people hear the words, ‘you have cancer,’” Eagen said. About 20,000 people are currently in treatment for the disease.

Last year in Ottawa, 1,000 people participated in the event, raising more than $2 million.

So far, the event has raised $8 million for the foundation. The funds have gone towards initiatives to increase the quality of care, including the acquisition of a nuclear camera at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, the establishment and support of a molecular lab and research.

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