On the run to beat lung cancer

The 7th annual Bedford 5k to Beat Lung Cancer takes place on June 29th. The family-friendly event invites runners and walkers of all abilities to complete the five-kilometre course along the waterfront and there is even a 500-metre race for kids.
“To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only event in the country specifically dedicated to lung cancer,” says Jean St-Amand, Bedford 5K founder and director. “There is a lot of public awareness of other charitable cancer organizations, but lung cancer doesn’t really get a lot of attention.”
St-Amand’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and sadly passed away in 2009. St-Amand praises the local healthcare system for acting promptly once his father was diagnosed. He noticed what was lacking, however, were services and resources such as support groups, specifically geared to those with lung cancer.
“What bothered me is the absence of support—the way people treat someone that has been diagnosed with lung cancer,” says St-Amand. “They feel alone to face the form of cancer they have. There’s a stigma there that’s very difficult to overcome—that lung cancer patients brought it upon themselves.”
St-Amand says he gave his father a hard time about his smoking until he began to understand the culture of that generation—how non smokers were the minority—and how extremely difficult it is to quit. St-Amand also notes that approximately 10 per cent of lung cancer patients have never smoked.
The stigma associated with lung cancer is probably a contributing factor to why there is a funding gap, says St-Amand, noting lung cancer claims the most lives of all cancers in Canada and yet receives a relatively low percentage of funding.
The Bedford 5K has already raised approximately $36,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society with funds specifically allocated to lung cancer initiatives. But for St-Amand, his main mission is to have the community rallying behind the cause through participating in the event, rather than meeting financial milestones.
Courteney Osborne will be running the Bedford 5k for the fourth time this year.I just keep going back because it’s such a nice course on the Bedford Waterfront,” she says. “It’s a relatively flat course, so it’s a great course for beginners, as well as experienced runners.”
Osborne also applauds the event’s organization and atmosphere, from the live music, the medals for each participant to watching the kids’ race and the encouraging crowd cheering runners on.
Osborne’s running group, the Timberlea Tundra Pounders, has a member whose father is battling lung cancer. To show their support, the TTPs are keen to participate in this year’s 5k. “We’re going to be pulling together two teams, so about 20 of us are going to be running this race,” says Osborne.
Besides running or walking, you can show your support through volunteering on race day, cheering on the runners, or purchasing a milestone marker in honour of a loved one or as a corporate sponsor.
“The expectation I have is that we at least inspire some other events like this to occur elsewhere in the country and collectively raise consciousness,” says St-Amand. “It’s not just about funneling money into cures. It’s a matter of providing support to the patients who are facing the disease.”
For more information, visit: bedford5k.com

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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