Remembering Janelle

Our world is one of inspiration, passion, sadness, challenges, compassion, enlightenment and love. By “our world” I mean the young adult cancer world.

I have been working at Young Adult Cancer Canada for nearly three years. The best three years in my life, to be quite honest. I started as Program Director, in which I planned Retreats and Conferences, and in which I had the pleasure of working with patients and survivors on a daily basis. While I have moved from that position to the Managing Director role, my favorite part of my job is still working with our survivor community. I had an awesome time working with our new Program Director, Karine Chalifour, this summer at our Retreat Yourself and Survivor Conference events.

I am reminded this month of my first Retreat Yourself back in 2007. The reason I am reminded is because of a fundraising event that is happening through Bold for Breast Cancer. Since 2007 Bold for Breast Cancer has used pictures of women, artfully photographed in the nude, for the Bold for Breast Cancer calendar. The 2010 calendar is being dedicated to Janelle Hughes. Janelle was a wonderful individual that attended Retreat Yourself 2007, and who passed away from Breast Cancer in May 2008.

Bold for Breast Cancer—which employs the slogan, “breast cancer isn’t shy, why should we be?”—was launched to help raise awareness of breast cancer in a less conventional way, through the art of body painting. Janelle was featured on the 2008 version of the calendar.

I was contacted several months ago by Ashleigh Topliss, an organizer of the calendar. Ashleigh knew Janelle and told me of their plans to dedicate the 2010 calendar to her. Ashleigh had seen that Janelle had come to our Retreat and that we had set up a fund for her to raise money for her flight to Montreal. Ashleigh contacted us to see if they would be able to donate the proceeds of their calendar to us in Janelle’s memory. Of course we were delighted to work with Ashleigh and to remember Janelle in this way.

Janelle joined our Young Adult Cancer Canada family in July 2007 and she will remain with us forever. She was such a bright, positive person with such a light inside of her that she touched the heart of everyone at the event. Personally, Janelle touched me in a special way. During the Retreat we went for a walk together, just the two of us, and I saw a more vulnerable side of her. She was a woman with many faces, all of them wonderful. She will always remain in our family, and especially in my heart.

I wanted to send a special thank you out to Ashleigh. What you are doing is amazing. I know Janelle would be very proud.

The calendar, will be launched Thursday November 19 during a special event in Vancouver. It features photos of body-painted women and men. For details, visit www.boldforbreastcancer.org or call 604-828-5590.

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