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Firefighters encouraged to Dress for the Cause

Sept. 8, 2014, Simcoe, Ont. - Breast cancer is not just a women’s issue. It is estimated that by the end of this year, about 22,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While the majority of those diagnosed will be female, men get breast cancer too.

September 8, 2014
By Maria Church

This October, join with firefighters across the country to promote breast-cancer awareness and education. Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly supports breast-cancer awareness and encourages departments from coast to coast to coast to Dress for the Cause . Look for our first-ever pink issue in October, dedicated to those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

Breast cancer is not just a women’s issue.

It is estimated that by the end of this year, about 22,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While the majority of those diagnosed will be female, men get breast cancer too.

marsha_davidson
Marsha Davidson, executive director of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, says Dress for the Cause on Oct. 24 helps the society raise money for cancer research.

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Marsha Davidson, executive director of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada , frequently reminds people of this little-known fact.

“A lot of men assume that they are immune because they are men, but they are not,” Davidson said in an interview. “One per cent of all cases are men. The problem with male breast cancer is that men are not paying attention to anything like that and by the time they do catch it, it’s progressed too far.”

As with all cancers, early detection of breast cancer increases the chance of survival, Davidson says. “But for early detection to happen, Canadians need to be educated and aware.

Over the past few years, seven of 10 provincial governments have legally acknowledged that firefighters are at a greater risk of contracting several forms of cancer than the general public due to workplace conditions and hazards.

In 2010, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to recognize breast cancer as an occupational risk for firefighters.

The province of Ontario followed suit last April, announcing changes to its presumptive legislation that added six new cancers to the list of diseases presumed to be job-related for the purpose of workers compensation benefits, including breast cancer.

“Even with the best protection available, firefighters are exposed to cancer-causing toxins from chemicals and plastics through the air and their skin,” Mark McKinnon, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association at the time, said in a press release following the announcement.

October is breast-cancer awareness month and it’s always a busy time for Davidson and the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. As one of the largest contributors to breast cancer research, the society brings in just over $1 million each year in donations, with 65 to 70 per cent of the money going directly to research centres across the country.

Each Oct. 24, the society co-ordinates a fundraising campaign called Dress for the Cause; registered teams wear pink and organize fundraisers in their communities.

Last year, teams across Canada raised $589,000 for the society.

The annual campaign draws attention to the disease and the importance of education for treatment and prevention.

Fire halls, says Davidson, play a huge part in promoting that awareness.

“We’ve seen it so many times; fire halls are places of wonderful community support for each and every community that they happen to be in,” she said.

Additionally, firefighters are a symbol of heroism that fits well with the goal of the fundraiser, Davidson added.

“They are in the business of saving lives every day so to us, to get them involved in something that funds research that will help save lives, it’s a nice fit. We find the people that are employed at those fire halls have a wonderful community spirit and are making a difference on many initiatives.”

For the past 15 years, the society has encouraged fire halls to sign up as teams and host a Dress for the Cause fundraiser.

For more information on Dress for the Cause and to register your fire hall, go online to dressforthecause.ca . Registrants will receive a fundraiser package, including a Dress for the Cause poster, campaign bra stickers and pledge sheets.

This year, the society is giving $5,000 to the team that raises the most, to go towards a cancer-care centre of their choice.