By Johanne Roy, The Blue Butterflies Team Captain

A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. It was from that moment that I realized the importance of participating in Relay For Life. I always knew that cancer was a terrible disease and that it affects many people, but before being directly touched by this awful disease, I had never thought about getting involved in fundraising events. I was very proud when I heard that people in my community had raised money for the cause, but I was never conscious of what I could do to contribute. In fact, it was much easier to tell myself, from the comfort of my home, that the people who participated in fundraising events were doing hard work and that they were very brave. When I think about it, I regret that I did not realize the importance of giving my time to fight cancer until someone close to me was touched by it.

This message certainly does not mean that I blame those people who stay in their routine and believe they don’t have the time or the talent to make a difference, because I was in their shoes not so long ago. On the contrary, this message is simply to tell everyone that it is easy and gratifying to get involved. You can go gradually like I did. Here is my story.

When my father told me about his experience as a survivor at his first Relay For Life, I had tears in my eyes. I was surprised to hear that he felt like a real Hollywood star when he walked around the track proudly wearing his yellow t-shirt. From that moment, I told myself that I absolutely had to participate in the event. So I registered in a team and had my first experience as a member of the Blue Butterflies team the next year. That night changed my perception of the disease. From that moment, I knew that I had to fight until it did not exist anymore. I don’t know if it was fate that was giving me a sign or if it was only a coincidence, but I learned that the team captain could not assume her role anymore. So I followed my instincts and decided to take charge of the Blue Butterflies team. Thanks to the recruitment of an exceptional team that always gets deeply involved, we have managed, in the last four years, to organize fundraising activities that are very successful. Whether it is a hockey pool, a bottle drive, the organization of a fashion show or a curling tournament, my team knows how to step up. It is indeed because of my team’s determination that we have had so much success.

Since I took over the role of team captain, many people around me have been touched by cancer. In fact, this terrible disease took my little nephew’s life. He was only four years old. I told myself that with research, experts will eventually find a cure and that one day another child like him will see his fifth birthday. That is why I encourage you to get involved. You will quickly realize that any action to fight cancer is rewarding. I sincerely believe that with the incredible effort of all the volunteers, one day, we will eradicate cancer.