Janaya Stevenson started running six years ago as a way to lose weight. A year later, she was taking part in running events.
Janaya, 32, ran her first 5K race in August 2007. She completed her first 10K run the following month and finished her first half-marathon three months later.
This year, the Warman resident is lacing up her running shoes to take part in 12 half-marathons while raising money for cancer research through the Canadian Cancer Society’s CancerFighters program.
Janaya, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 3, has run one half-marathon a month since January. She completed her “12 in 2012” project by the end of December.
There is a history of cancer in Janaya’s family and in her husband’s family.
Janaya’s mother’s mother, grandmother and an aunt had breast cancer. Her mother’s sister died of breast cancer when she was 40.
“Now, as a mom, the thought of leaving my boys early is terrifying,” Janaya says.
She would like her boys to live their lives without fearing cancer, or without fearing that they will pass it on to their children.
Janaya’s close friend Heather had been fighting a brain tumour for 5 years when she was told she had terminal cancer, in November 2011. Heather died on January 8. She was 31.
Janaya ran ran her first half-marathon of 2012 six days after Heather died. Around her neck Janaya wore something of Heather’s: the necklace she gave Heather when Heather was Janaya’s maid of honour. Janaya wears the gold chain with the letter H charm during every half-marathon.
While Janaya enjoys the challenges half-marathons present, if she were not raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society, if she were not writing her blog, she would have stopped taking part in so many races in one year.
When Janaya decided to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society, she had no expectations and no goal in mind. She would have been happy with whatever amount she collected.
“I didn’t anticipate the response that I’ve received,” Janaya says.
She received her first donation on January 1, her birthday. The $100 was from her brother. Heather’s father provided the second donation.
Janaya raised almost $15,000 in support of the Canadian Cancer Society in 2012. She is grateful to everyone who has given.
“Without the support and generosity of my friends, family and community, I’m just a mom who likes to run.”
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