Anita Cochrane and the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers

Anita Cochrane founded team LiveSTRONG seven years ago for the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers- two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her positive spirit, love for fitness, and enthusiasm toward research fused into an inspirational team captain and advocate for breast cancer research.

Anita Cochrane and the Weekend to End Women's Cancers

In the years she participated in the Weekend, she walked over 300 kilometres, raised over $270,000, and inspired countless others to place hope in breast cancer research.

Anita lived with breast cancer for nine years and succumbed to the disease last October.

This year, Team LiveSTRONG’s 25 members walked without Anita by their sides – they walked in her memory, to propel her legacy, and raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. This year also marks the final chapter of the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers event.

“The first year we participated in the Weekend was 2005 – after that, Anita was hooked,” says Mike Cochrane, Anita’s husband.

Her goal was a cure. Mike remembers Anita’s reply when people would ask if their efforts are making a difference. “She would look people in the eye and say, ‘Yes – you’re making a difference in my life.’ ” She believed wholeheartedly in the integrity of her oncologists and the research.

When speaking publicly about the power of cancer research and philanthropy, Anita would often end in saying, “If it won’t save my life, it will definitely save the lives of others following behind me. I cannot think of a better legacy to leave than that.”

Mike maintains hope for cancer patients down the road, just as Anita had. “We knew that the money we raised was allowing Anita to live longer,” he says.

Treatment advancements, access to clinical trials, and comprehensive care for breast cancer patients are informed by research discoveries. Many of these discoveries are taking place here in B.C.

Dr. Samuel Aparicio, head of the breast cancer research program at the BC Cancer Agency, has led a number of groundbreaking discoveries in breast cancer. “The treatment advancements available today are thanks in part to the incredible fundraising efforts of Anita, others like her, and investments into research from the Weekend.”

“We are better able to understand and treat the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, helping women live longer with a higher quality of life, compared to ten years ago,” he says.

Throughout her many rounds of treatment over the years, Anita maintained motivation through the support of her family and friends, activities she loved – such as skiing and coaching competitive curling – and her passion for raising money for the BC Cancer Foundation.

“I personally participated in the Weekend event in memory of my mother who died from breast cancer before her grandchildren were born. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her, or about Anita and other women whose fight with breast cancer was eventually lost. They are both a reminder and an inspiration that our work is not done yet. Although we are living through an incredible time of discovery in cancer medicine, we are learning it with the persistence in the need to find the right strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment of the most aggressive breast cancers,” adds Aparicio.

Since 2004, the Weekend has provided over 20 million dollars in support to scientists and clinicians at the BC Cancer Agency. Their research into breast and ovarian cancer is, and will continue to, change the face of diagnosis and cancer treatment in B.C.

Anita’s legacy, like the Weekend’s, will remain a catalyst for fundraising events and discoveries to come in the stride toward a world free from cancer. With the powerful partnerships of patient advocates, fundraisers, researchers, and clinicians, Anita’s hope lives on.

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