Two-time breast cancer thriver/survivor Diane Martin hopes to share a positive message that there is life after breast cancer at this year’s Batting Against Breast Cancer slo-pitch tournament in Airdrie.
The 12th annual, family friendly, one-day, slo-pitch tournament is returning to Chinook Winds Regional Park in September after a two-year hiatus and is still welcoming teams to sign up.
Organizers hope the event helps them “March to a Million Dollars” in a lifetime fundraising goal for the Canadian Cancer Society for the Calgary/Airdrie region.
As the tournament’s Ambassador of Hope, Martin looks forward to sharing her story and raising awareness about the support available to those touched by cancer.
“It doesn't matter who you are, you could be touched by it. You should be on guard for any signs of things that can maybe cause cancer and… do your checks,” Martin said. “Especially for breast cancer, it's easy to do monthly exams, especially for women.”
She added that men can also be touched by breast cancer and just like women, they should check in with their doctors.
Martin was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. After her diagnosis, she received surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation as part of her treatment.
Her second diagnosis came in 2007, which was treated again with surgery and chemotherapy.
Looking back at her first treatment, she described herself laying in a bed for eight hours with both her husband and her sister by her side as she was injected with chemotherapy. Although it was extremely difficult for her, she felt it was even harder for her loved ones to helplessly watch her go through it.
“If you're just there for the person going through it, that's the most important. Let them talk if they have to talk, let them cry if they have to cry, and laugh a lot, and just be there for them,” she advised. “That's the most important, and I think it really helps in your recovery that you have someone to help you.”
Due to her first treatment in 2000 being so hard on her body, it took Martin a long time to get back to living her life, she admitted.
But her mindset during treatment in 2007 was different, she said, as she believed she was going to beat the cancer a second time and continue doing the things she wanted to do.
“Life does go on after breast cancer. The faster you catch breast cancer the better it is. Don't be afraid to go to your doctor and have a lump checked out because if you get it checked out, you can get treatment quicker,” she said.
Martin started volunteering for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation several years after her first diagnosis and joined Batting Against Breast Cancer (BABC) as soon as it started up.
“When I first started helping with BABC it was just so great to see how many people came out to support and tried to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer,” said Martin, who has been the tournament’s ambassador multiple times.
“People that were there were all such wonderful people and the survivors that came out as well. It was a joy to watch them play and still be able to do everything [they] ever did before breast cancer.”
She said the tournament is a great way of showing people there is life after breast cancer, as well as support available for those who are diagnosed.
Proceeds from the Airdrie tournament help provide information, support, and fund research for the breast cancer cause and those affected by it.
“Today, we're at $971,929 raised. So we are really close [to our goal],” said event chairman, Heather Kostuk. “We need $28,071. So we're hoping to blow past that of course.
“We're kind of coming back from everybody not being at these events. We don't know what it's going to look like but we have a lot of excited people in the teams and the teams are fundraising already.”
Teams don’t need to be extremely formal or competitive, Kostuk added, and most teams have fun names and dress up for the day on the ball diamond.
There will also be a silent auction, a coffee station to help get things moving in the morning, and organizers are still looking for a breakfast sponsor.
Kostuk noted that cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, with breast cancer among the top cancers impacting women.
“It's really important that even though we've had this pause for the last two years that we get back at it,” Kostuk said. “We want to make sure we're marching towards reducing those diagnoses and if people do get diagnosed, they have the support, information, and research to fight it. We don't want to take the foot off the gas pedal more than we have to.”
On average, 78 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day and 15 Canadian women will die from breast cancer every day, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics.
The event takes place on Sept. 10 at the Chinook Winds Regional Park Ball Diamonds in Airdrie.
Organizers are still welcoming volunteers, sponsors, and teams for the tournament. In 2019, the tournament drew 16 teams and Kostuk hopes to have the same number of teams this year.
Team registration is now open and can be found at cancer.ca/babc by following the "Sign Up" prompts.