Evening of Pink, a fundraising event in the fight against breast cancer, takes place Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Prince George Civic Centre, with special guest speaker Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, a family physician for 23 years, the former provincial minister of education, labour and most recently health, and a breast cancer survivor.
"My story is a pretty ordinary story, I would have to say, compared to some of the previous guest speakers," said MacDiarmid. "I turned 50 in 2007 and I had a screening mammogram - what everybody should do - and a few days after it, I got a call that said there's something that looks a bit funny, probably nothing, but more tests should be done."
MacDiarmid had been a family doctor in Trail for years, had just stopped being president of the B.C. Medical Association and had recently had moved to Vancouver.
"In my practice, I counseled a lot of patients and really encouraged my women patients to have mammograms and go to the screening program," said MacDiarmid. "I said to them that they might get this call and almost always it's not breast cancer. So, of the abnormal mammograms way under 10 per cent of those were actually breast cancer."
When her family doctor gave her the breast cancer diagnosis, she said she responded as probably most people do when given the news.
"I almost didn't believe it," said MacDiarmid, whose lump could only be detected by the screening mammogram, because it was so small - a little over a centimetre in size.
MacDiarmid's interests had turned to politics and about a week before her diagnosis, she had met with then premier, Gordon Campbell, and committed to run in the 2009 election.
Because her breast cancer treatment left her immune system in a compromised state, it was not recommended that she return to her work as a family physician because she would be exposed to sick people. During that time, her interest in politics grew.
After having a lumpectomy, MacDiarmid started her cancer treatment at the BC Cancer Agency's Vancouver Centre.
"I always knew it was a very special place," said MacDiarmid, who visited the facility as the president of the medical association, but never as a patient. "I felt that if I had to have a diagnosis of cancer, I was really fortunate that I was there. We have the best cancer statistics in Canada, right here in B.C. If you have to have cancer, this is the place to be."
After 16 weeks of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiation, MacDiarmid is cancer free.
"I really do feel that life is a precious gift and it is about living, it's not about what might go wrong," MacDiarmid said. "It's more about how great can this day be and what can I do with it? And many people who have cancer, that's exactly what happens to them. They feel they live better -- they're more likely to tell their family they love them, they're more likely to jump higher, dance faster and smile more because they have a sense that something could happen and they might not be around for as long as they thought they would."
Tickets are available at the The Inn Flower Place at 250-561-0366 or contact organizer Monica Peacock at 250-552-4114 or visit www.eveningofpink.com