Paula Seigel

Paula SeigelPaula Seigel is a 10. She participated in the very first Weekend to End Breast Cancer (now the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers) back in 2003, and Paula and her family are participating in a campaign to make this year’s 10th anniversary of the event the best one ever.

Because the event began just weeks after Paula completed her breast cancer treatment at The Princess Margaret, the evolution of The Weekend has aligned closely with her own evolution and transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor to hospital advocate and patient supporter.

Paula was just 31 years old and pregnant with her second child when she felt the lump in her breast. The Weekend event helped her when she felt vulnerable as a young mother recovering from cancer treatment by connecting her both figuratively and literally with thousands of other women determined to make a positive difference for future breast cancer patients.

“There is an incredible sense of unity at The Weekend, and when my Posse walked into the Direct Energy building arm-in-arm, it was very powerful. We felt the gratitude of everyone in the building,” she shares. “Walkers know that we’re in this battle to end breast cancer together, and together we are a force!”

Paula has participated in virtually every Weekend of the nine so far—seven years as a walker, and she and her husband Geoff have also worked as crew volunteers. She and her ‘Posse’ are looking forward to walking again in this year’s 10th anniversary of The Weekend, and they’ll be celebrating Paula’s 10 years of good health.

As someone treated at The Princess Margaret, Paula is strongly motivated to raise funds for the hospital and to share the story of her personal cancer journey with the people who support her in The Weekend. When she thinks back to her first visits to the hospital, she recalls just how helpful it was when hospital volunteers (many of them breast cancer survivors themselves) would speak with her and re-assure her by sharing their story.

“The volunteers and caregivers at The Princess Margaret never give up on you,” says Paula. “When I asked my oncologist, Dr. Michael Crump, if I was going to die, he was so honest and so thoughtful as he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Paula, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so. I think you’re going to beat this.’ And there it was…hope.”

When asked if she thinks there has been progress in the past 10 years for breast cancer patients, Paula replies with a very strong YES. She is a well-informed advocate now and she speaks to the many more treatment options that patients have today and the fact that chemotherapy is considerably more tolerable than ten years ago. Detection technology has improved, and biopsies can be completed in a matter of hours. Earlier detection means that treatment can be more successful.

Patients also have much more information and support available to them today which helps to dispel the considerable fear and anxiety that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. These are all significant improvements that Paula is happy to be able to talk about when she meets and supports newly-diagnosed patients.

 

Revised October 2013