She wasn’t overweight, inactive or a smoker.

So when Genevieve Allen was diagnosed with breast cancer in Nov. 2005 at the age of 45, she was shocked.

“Life can change so fast,” said Allen.


She had a mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation, hormone therapy, and a prophylactic mastectomy.

“I would do all this and walk through fire to live,” she said.

After her experience, she wanted to give back to the community, by speaking out and by participating in events like the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure.

To raise awareness for the 16th annual event in Ottawa, acting mayor Doug Thompson declared this week Paint Canada Pink Week in Ottawa on Monday. Through Sunday, businesses across the capital will show their support by putting on pink displays and distributing fundraising and awareness materials.

“Almost everyone is affected by the disease,” said Allen, who returns to Run for the Cure at LeBreton Flats for the fourth time on Oct. 4. “We need everyone to fight back.”

One in nine women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetimes, said Kelly Fry, the volunteer run director for Ottawa-Gatineau.

Coun. Marianne Wilkinson also shared her story.

Two years ago, Wilkinson learned through a regular mammogram that she had a low-grade breast cancer. Because it was caught early, she didn't have to go through chemotherapy.

On Monday, she encouraged all women ages 50 to 69 to take advantage of the Ontario breast screening program.

Thompson said he is trying to organize a council team for the 5K event, and is confident city residents will get behind the event.

Run for the Cure is accessible to almost everyone, Allen said.

Participants walk or run distances of 5K or 1K, raising money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Last year, more than 10,000 people raised $1.62 million in Ottawa. Canadawide, the event raised $28.5 million to fund breast cancer research, awareness and education projects.

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