Devin Green and daughter Lia took part in the annual CIBC Run for the Cure, remembering a wife and mother while raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
Kevin Green lost his wife to cancer on December 22, 2017. Kim Green was 34 years old. The couple’s daughter Lia was three years old at the time of her mother’s passing. Kim died 10 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We’d just moved into our new house in Paradise that was going to be our forever home,” Devin said during an interview at a coffee shop in Paradise on October 1.
Kim’s treatment included a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Sadly, the cancer spread to the lymph nodes in her neck. “That was September (2017). It was Stage four at that point,” Devin said.
Kim had surgeries to remove lymph nodes from her neck and under her arm.Radiation followed the surgeries. However, diagnostic testing in mid-December 2017 showed Kim’s cancer has progressed to her brain.
“We were really hoping she would get Christmas out of it. But, it never worked out,” Devin said.
Kim was a teacher who loved life, her family and friends. Since his wife’s death, Devin’s main priority is Lia who is now four years old.
“Lia asks about her mom and how she is doing. I tell her Mommy got sick. She didn’t mean to leave us. I tell her it’s you and me now. You and me forever.”
Devin and Lia took part in the Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure in St. John’s on September 30.
More than 82,000 Canadians gathered in 56 different communities to participate in this year’s run, raising an estimated $16.2 million for the breast cancer cause. Researchers benefit from Canadian Cancer Society funds
Thanks to funding from the Canadian Cancer Society (including money generated through events like the CIBC Run for the Cure) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), a breast cancer researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax is conducting a clinical trial to determine the impact of an exercise program on heart health and quality of life in patients with breast cancer who are receiving a specific chemotherapy drug.
Dr. Scott Grandy is an associate professor at the School of Health and Human Performance, Division of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University. The drug in question, he said, is often given after surgery to prevent a breast cancer reoccurrence. However, it is also known to cause heart damage which puts individuals at greater risk of developing heart disease later in life.
“Now that we see the survival rate for cancer increasing, we are seeing more and more individuals developing heart disease. In fact, there is a higher likelihood that they will develop heart disease after they have undergone treatment than their cancer recurring,” Grandy said.
The current clinical trial stems from a previous research project focused on whether participating in a 12-week aerobic exercise program would reduce symptoms associated chemotherapy and help protect the heart. Those enrolled in the study were breast cancer patients who were taking the drug in question.
Exercise & Chemo
“We did find that (the exercise program) did help reduce their symptoms and did help prevent negative effects in terms of their heart,” Grandy said.
The researchers also found that, while there were a lot of people who wanted to participate in the study (which ran out of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax), they could not because of travel problems.
Thanks to the recent funding the 12-week aerobic-based program will soon be up and running in Halifax and at a sister site in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Grandy said. The exercise program will be twice a week, he said, and, ideally, women will be recruited within two weeks of their cancer diagnosis so that the exercise can start around the same time as their chemotherapy.
“And this time around we are going to do more significant measures on how the heart is working. We’ll do scans of the heart prior to them starting the exercise program and again after they have completed the exercise program,” Grandy said.
When asked if people undergoing chemotherapy would be feeling well enough to participate in an exercise program, Grandy said, the exercise is tailored specifically to each participant based on their treatment, their stage of cancer, their symptoms as well as numerous other factors.
“We could have two or three people participating on any given day and the intensity of their exercise could be totally different,” Grandy said.
The project will run about three years, he said, and the goal of the research is to show the benefit of exercise to people with breast cancer. Grandy said the results of the research could benefit women all over the world.
“If you receive a diagnosis of cancer, being physically active, before treatment, during treatment and after treatment will be of huge benefit. We know that it can improve the outcome of treatment, it can help reduce the side effects of treatment. (Exercise) is a powerful tool that we want to try to get incorporated as a standard of care for cancer treatment.”
Breast Cancer Research
Kim’s husband supports breast cancer research. Devin said it’s good to know that a portion of the money raised through the CIBC Run for the Cure goes towards research. He said participating in the run is something his wife would have wanted him to do.
“Kim’s been gone 10 months and this was our way of honouring her. We had family and friends there and some teachers. And, if Kim was here, she would be the first one to line up and do it,” Devin said.