I started working at the BC Cancer Foundation more than seven years ago. On my very first day, I sat down at my desk, and there was a sign covering my computer screen which read "WELCOME DANA". It was written using florescent markers, surrounded by swirls and flowers. I soon learned that this sign was made by my colleague Dani. I also soon learned that this bright and stunning sign was such a perfect representation of Dani's personality. Dani managed the Inspiration Gala, one of the events that I am so honoured to manage now. She did this with such grace and passion. She was so well respected, and soon became my BCCF mentor. She taught me to use much more polished language in my minutes, she taught me to save any nice email I ever received for my annual review, she taught me almost everything I know now about auctions, and most of all, she taught me to live fully and generously with passion and joy.
Dani's best friend was her husband Jacob, she loved him with all her heart and it was so totally apparent. Dani and I would chat about marriage and dating, and her future plans about having children. We had many late nights in the office, working hard, and laughing hysterically. I will never forget Dani chassé-ing down our little hallway in celebration of a milestone event achievement. I will also never forget the "Dani Dance"! Dani truly was a bright light in countless people's lives.
One thing I will also never forget was Dani's cough. Dani would cough anytime she started laughing too hard. It was getting really bad, so I'm fairly certain it was Jacob who forced her to get it checked out. After my first Inspiration Gala, Dani started to see a doctor to figure out what was going on. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the stomach lining. It had also spread to her ovaries. The months following were scary, yet hopeful, yet terrifying and heartbreaking. Dani passed away on June 16, 2014 at the age of 31. She had a full life ahead of her. She is missed every single day. Tragically, this is not the only loss I have experienced due to cancer. Three years ago we lost my aunt to lung cancer, and that has left a huge hole in many lives.
Thankfully, I have also experienced triumph. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor, my mom's best friend is a breast cancer survivor, another good friend of my mom's is an esophageal cancer survivor, and I know two event profs who are now officially survivors. To quote someone I respect, "Cancer research has worked, and is working, but it's not working for everyone yet".
Cancer won't stop, and neither will we.
This May I’ll be participating in Workout to Conquer Cancer, where I’ll be joining hundreds of others across the province as we get moving every single day of the month in support of cancer research and enhancements to care at BC Cancer.
One in two British Columbians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. I've committed to break a sweat and fundraise to improve the outcome for people facing this disease across the province. With your support, we will make a significant contribution to the world-class research conducted by the clinicians and scientists at BC Cancer. Their work is providing exciting new evidence that is changing the way cancer is prevented, detected and treated.
So, as I lace up my runners, fill up my water bottle and get ready to sweat my way through May, please show your support by making a donation today.