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

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station upgrades completed

It’s the seventh station along Expo Line to see upgrades completed. Construction began in March 2017

Semiahmoo Trail students surpass Coldest Night fundraising goal

Rocco Forte and his team are third-year participants in Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Surrey students learn the ins and outs of business through workers’ co-operative

Mentors work with youth in voluntary after-school program

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read