Haysom with her grandkids Conall

‘Everything happens for a reason’

Breast cancer survivor Sally Haysom is taking part in her ninth CIBC Run for the Cure on Oct. 2.

On Oct. 2, well over 1,000 people, most of them wearing pink and white, will gather at Bear Creek Park for the CIBC’s Run for the Cure, a fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

As the event’s communication coordinator, Sally Haysom is currently prepping a breast cancer survivor to address the walkers and runners with an inspiring motivational speech.

But just in case that scenario doesn’t pan out, Haysom has her own speech ready, as backup.

“A lot of time, survivors have a tough time getting on up on stage and speaking in front of thousands of people.”

Haysom doesn’t mind telling her own story.

Nine years ago, a small lump was found in her right breast.

It was benign in a biopsy, but the doctor found what were described as unusual cells, and she was advised to monitor it closely.

She had already lost a sister and four aunts – one of them before 50 – to breast cancer, so it seemed to Haysom that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

Three month later, a self-exam supported her worst fears.

“It had gotten to the point where I could feel it.”

The grandmother of 13 was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 52.

“We decided as a family – it was a group decision – that we would go with a bilateral mastectomy.”

The surgery was on March 18, 2008.

“I ended up having 10 surgeries in four years. It just kept going and wouldn’t heal, and things were not going well. I kept having to go back for surgery again and again and again…”

Although the healing was slow and painful, Haysom has been cancer-free for eight years and six months.

Although the surgery in March 2008 wasn’t to be her last, she still celebrates that milestone.

The following year, on March 18, she and her family began to hold Pink Balloon Release Day.

Now every year, her whole family gathers to bring good wishes, inflate balloons and attach positive messages to them.

The balloons are released at 2:18 p.m., the same time as the surgery.

Even one of her sons has a simultaneous ceremony with his family of eight in Alberta. (They send her videos.)

“It’s a release of all the stress we go through,” she says.

After her first surgery, while recuperating on her couch, Haysom saw a commercial on TV for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Vancouver.

“I struggled to make 5K, but we made it.”

She re-joined every year, and as the event began in Surrey in 2012, she began taking a more active part in the event, from participant to committee member to survivor coordinator to communications coordinator.

Photo: Last year’s run at Bear Creek Park.

“As I made the transition from helpless victim to activist, one of the most important realizations (I made) was that if you accept your condition and hold self-pity at bay, others won’t feel sorry for you,” she says.

“If you can discuss your disease and medical therapy in a matter-of-fact manner, they’ll respond in kind without fear or awkwardness. You are in charge.”

No relatives of Haysom survived more than five years after a cancer diagnosis.

Haysom says her family gave her great strength and inspiration to survive past that five-year mark.

“Whatever season I’m in with this disease, I take it one day at a time and one hour at a time.”

Married for 38 years, she remains active with her family: Vacations, hiking, fishing and more.

She now has five more grandchildren since the first surgery, a total of 18 – plus a new great-grandchild.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure takes place Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. at Bear Creek Park, 13750 88 Ave. There are both 1K and 5K routes. To donate or register as a team, call 604-443-6956, email surrey@cbcfcloud.org or visit http://bit.ly/2bM4wls

Just Posted

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

Former Surrey gymnast shining on rugby pitch for Bayside

An injury forced Brady Reeleder to switch sports, and now he’s thriving at his new endeavour

B.C. government funding 360 affordable homes in Delta

The $36-million investment will build homes for families and seniors in Ladner and Tsawwassen

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Giants serve up major defeat to Pats at Langley Events Centre

On the ice, Vancouver G-Men wrap up home stand with a 10-4 win over Regina Friday night.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read