Her determination is inspiring, her spirit is heartwarming and her smile is contagious.
Breast cancer survivor Bernice Arsenault is on a mission to one day see a world without the disease.
In August 2001, after a regularly scheduled mammogram, Arsenault was diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer. She underwent immediate surgery to remove the lump and daily radiation treatments to prevent the cancer from spreading.
“When you hear the word ‘cancer,’ it just sort of floats over your head and you don’t really register what’s happening,” Arsenault says of the day she was diagnosed. “I told the doctor to do whatever had to be done — I was in his hands. Lucky for me, it was caught early. Early detection is key.
“I think the hardest part was telling people that I had it — everyone was just devastated, but my theory was, I can’t be down there with you. If you’re coming on this journey, you have to be up here with me.”
Arsenault’s positive outlook prevailed. Her treatment was a success; the cancer did not spread. It was then that Arsenault realized how fortunate she was and made the decision to work toward a cancer-free future for others.
In spring 2002, Arsenault put her all into fundraising for the Run For The Cure and raised more than $2,000. Since then, her ambitions and collection totals continue to grow.
In 2006, Arsenault was awarded the Ford Determination Award for her commitment to raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run For The Cure in Halifax. The award is presented annually to the top fundraiser at each run site. To date, Arsenault has raised an impressive $64,000 and counting for breast cancer research.
Her approach is simple and effective — ask anyone and everyone for donations.
“Talk to everyone — you can’t be shy,” she says. “All donations are welcome, no matter how small or large.”
Arsenault jokes that when she comes around, her family, friends and co-workers know it’s time to get out their wallets.
“Everyone is so happy to support me, and I have a faithful group who walk with me every year at the Run For The Cure,” she says.
- For more information on Run For The Cure and how you can donate, visit www.cibcrunforthecure.com.