DORVAL, QC, Sept. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Twenty years ago this month, 12-year-old Joseph Power was a very worried boy. The future wasn't bright for his mother, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery to remove three tumours and 12 lymph nodes, eight of them cancerous. This afternoon, his mother will be among those welcoming 32-year-old Joseph as he and 37 of his colleagues at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada complete a four-day bicycle trip from Toronto to Montreal that has raised approximately $115,000 for breast cancer research.
Bernadette Power is very much alive, now 62 and still cancer-free 20 years after her initial devastating diagnosis that led her to write farewell letters to each of her three children before her surgery. "You never feel as if you've beaten it," she says. "You count every day as a grace." And she gives back, helping current cancer patients through their ordeal as part of the "Sharing Our Strength" support group in her home city of St. John's, Newfoundland.
"It's a good-news story that we want to share," says Joseph. "A disease like cancer can make the future seem very bleak, but it can turn around. My mother went from thinking she might not be able to raise her own kids to being a grandmother."
This powerful experience, plus his enthusiasm for cycling, explains why Joseph Power is one of the 38 Novartis employees who, over the past four days, have pedaled the 600 km from Toronto to Montreal to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. They are expected to complete their trip at 2 p.m. today at the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada headquarters, 385 Bouchard Blvd., Dorval, where they will be greeted by Mrs. Power, their fellow employees and friends, and where they will present their proceeds to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
(Montreal media are welcome to attend the arrival of the team at the Novartis headquarters. Please call Lise Huneault, 514-966-7524, to make arrangements and get updated times and details.)
Each participant in this fifth annual "Ride for the Cure" raised a minimum of $2,000 for the cause before their journey began. Along with donations they were hoping to receive en route, they expect their pedalling will raise approximately $115,000 for breast cancer research. The cyclists encourage all those moved by their effort to make a donation by visiting www.novartis.ca.
"We congratulate the Novartis employees who are participating in this fith annual Ride for the Cure, for their dedication and commitment to the cause," said Victoria Mackinlay, Manager, Marketing & Communications, at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. "By working together we can help achieve our vision of a future without breast cancer."
The riders, all amateurs and most only recreational cyclists, rode between 115 and 200 km each day. They left from the CN Tower in Toronto on Saturday morning, Sept. 19, and made their way to Montreal along highway #2, stopping overnight in Cobourg, Kingston and, last night, Cornwall. A further 21 Novartis employees joined the group at the Quebec border to participate in today's final leg to Montreal.
"The Ride for the Cure has become one of the major elements of our community commitment and I'm immensely proud of how all of our colleagues have embraced this effort and this cause," said David Meek, President and CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada. "We work with cancer patients every day and most of us have been touched personally by the disease, so we know its impact and the importance of continuing research to help fight it."
The Ride for the Cure effort was started in 2005 by a group of Novartis employees to increase the company's fundraising efforts for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and with this year's efforts, the total raised will exceed half a million dollars. In 2008, Novartis was the top fundraising organization for the Montreal Run, largely because of the Ride for the Cure effort. Hundreds of Novartis employees, friends and family participated in last year's Montreal Run, as well as at various other Run events across the country where groups of field-based employees gathered.
About breast cancer in Canada
The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 22,700 women and 180 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, an average of more than 430 per week. An estimated 5,400 women and 50 men will die from the disease this year, more than 100 per week. One in nine (11%) of Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. However, since 1999 the incidence of breast cancer in Canada has stabilized and since 1986 the death rate from the disease has fallen by more than 30%, likely due to improvements in screening and advances in treatment. At present, the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer in Canada is 87%, meaning that women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 87% likelihood of living for five years after their diagnosis.
About Novartis Canada
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. In 2008, the Company invested more than $96 million in research and development. As a long-time sponsor of the annual CIBC Run for the Cure, Novartis Canada has made a commitment to breast cancer research as well as supporting physician and patient awareness. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs approximately 800 people in Canada and its headquarters are located in Dorval, Quebec. It was named again one of the "50 Best Employers in Canada" in 2009. For further information, please consult www.novartis.ca.
SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
For further information: For further information: Lise Huneault, Communications, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada, (514) 631-6775, ext. 1203, (514) 966-7524, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jean Kanan, HKDP Communications & Public Affairs, (514) 395-0375, ext. 225, (514) 234-4095, email@example.com