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The battle goes on - Metro US

The battle goes on

Shortly after Cheryl Kardish-Levitan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, the Ottawa resident participated in her first Run for the Cure, while still undergoing radiation.

Then based out of Lansdowne Park, the event was smaller, attracting only 1,000 participants.

But it left an impression on her.

“After that, I decided I would devote as much time as I could to raise money for breast cancer,” she said.

Now a nine-year survivor, Kardish-Levitan is still one of the event’s top fundraisers, bringing in $24,000 with her team in the event’s 16th year.

Despite the big changes she has seen in the rapidly growing national event, the biggest changes are still the ones she’s seen in herself.

“Life’s better now,” she said. “I value everything much more and I don’t sweat the small things.”

While 8,500 people raised $1.5 million at yesterday’s event at LeBreton Flats Park, “it’s seeing all the survivors come back year after year that makes it all worthwhile,” said Ottawa-Gatineau’s run director, Kelly Fry. “You know that you’ve made a difference.

“They really take this event to heart,” said Fry. “Maybe it’s because one in nine women are diagnosed, or because they know someone who was touched by it, whether it’s a mother, sister, aunt, friend or coworker.”

Donning superhero capes, Ottawa’s Heather Thomson and her friends said raising money for the cause is “very powerful and very emotional.

“It’s inspiring to be here with everyone,” she said.

For Krystyna Rybczynska and Julia Spencer, the event was not only a mother-daughter activity, but a chance to raise funds for a cause that’s affected them personally.

They walked for a friend and Rybczynska’s mother and Spencer’s grandmother, who was diagnosed with cancer in the spring and is on her way to a full recovery.

“The statistics are disturbingly high,” said Rybczynska. “It’s important that we do all that we can to fund research, education and prevention.”

While breast cancer is predominantly a women’s disease, male supporters also came out.

“Everyone has been touched in some way, shape or form,” said Bytown Blues Rugby Club’s Greg McKay, whose grandmother and mother both beat breast cancer.

“A lot of people think it’s for women, but men come out as well,” observed Stittsville resident Shannon Brewster. “Cancer affects everyone.”

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