Every year, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation runs Challenge for Life, a fundraising/awareness event whereby walkers commit to raising $1,000 for CancerCare Manitoba while also taking an active role in maintaining their physical health, thus reducing their risk of getting cancer by up to 50%.
This year, Challenge for Life culminates on June 8 with a 20-kilometre walk, beginning and ending at Assiniboine Park.
This is Christine Cesmystruk’s fourth year taking the Challenge. Cesmystruk is an administrative assistant in the Manitoba Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at CancerCare Manitoba.
"Every day I see cancer patients coming through the building and I’ve also had family members affected by the disease," says Cesmystruk, 45.
"You do whatever you can to help raise some money. You might not cure it, I mean I hope we could, but every little bit of money helps. It goes to research that can help with treatment, help with early detection and help save a life."
Cesmystruk walks with Team Transplant, which, in its four years of participating in the Challenge, has raised almost $50,000.
And then there’s the healthy living component. Cesmystruk admits she wasn’t in tip-top shape before the Challenge, but says the event has encouraged her to live a healthier life.
"It makes you more aware," Cesmystruk says, who now goes to the gym multiple times a week. "Last year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and every year something seems to hit, whether its co-workers, friends or other people I know. You can’t run away from it."
No, you can’t run away from it, but you can reduce it by running. Or walking. That’s where events such as Challenge for Life come in, encouraging folks to regularly exercise, eat healthily, quit bad habits like smoking, get regular check-ups and practice safe sun.
"They say even 30 minutes a day of any kind of exercise, even just four to five times a week, can reduce your risk of cancer. And it’s not just cancer, but other diseases too. It’s all good in the end," Cesmystruk says.
For more information on Challenge for Life call 204-927-LIFE (5433) and visit www.challengeforlife.ca.