Barbara Garvin, donor

Now I know that I will help someone with cancer even after I’m gone. It’s a footprint I want to leave behind me.

I've seen cancer battles won and lost ... The first battle was waged about 40 years ago. I was a young woman then – getting established in my nursing career and starting my family. One of my best friends, Sarah, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Like me, she was just starting out in life and building her own version of happiness.

Sarah had a wonderful husband and a beautiful little girl. Her life was laid before her like a wedding banquet. Then, out of the blue, Sarah was diagnosed with colon cancer. By the time it was discovered, the cancer was quite well developed. Despite incredible efforts from the doctors and surgeons, Sarah lost her life to cancer. She was only 36.

My decision to give

That was the moment when I truly realized that I wasn’t going to live forever. I realized deeply that I had to make my life count for others, as well as for myself. I had to be the best person I could be – and live the best life I possibly could. I resolved to really make my life count, even for people I’d never meet.

I began to volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society, and I’m still involved to this day. I’ve been a door-to-door volunteer daffodil canvasser. I’ve been a regular visitor to people with terminal cancer who have no family or friends. I’ve done cancer bike-a-thons – and a host of other things.

Then, 7 years ago, I had another of those life-changing moments. I was diagnosed with cancer myself. I was 66 years old, and suddenly my mortality was staring me in the face again.

My own cancer journey

When I was born, a cancer diagnosis was considered fatal. By the time I was diagnosed, the odds had changed dramatically. Even though I was very much afraid of my cancer, I did know that the odds were with me.

Thankfully, my surgery, chemo and radiation were successful – and I beat my breast cancer. Today, I’m living an active, happy and productive life. And yes, I’m still involved with the Canadian Cancer Society.

My commitment to a future without cancer

As well as being a Cancer Society volunteer, I’ve also been a donor for many years now. I’ve chosen to donate because I believe in the cause of fighting cancer. I know firsthand how dedicated the people at the Canadian Cancer Society are to our well-being. I also know how careful the Society is with donated dollars. That’s a big reason for me to trust them with my money.

A few years ago, I deepened my support even further. I decided to include the Canadian Cancer Society as a beneficiary in my will. Now I know that I will help someone with cancer even after I’m gone. It’s a footprint I want to leave behind me. It’s a benefit I want to give to someone who, like me, has to face their own cancer journey.