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Lock Out Cancer 2023 campaign stresses the importance of screenings, early detection

Kathleen Turner's life took a major turn when she rushed herself to the hospital after suddenly experiencing a "stabbing eye pain" on the right side of her face.

After 13 hours in the emergency department, she was told it was the result of a cancerous brain tumour.

"I was terrified. I don't know if I believed it. It took time to process what my surgeon was telling me," said Turner, recalling her diagnosis in Dec. 2021.

In the months that followed, she would go undergo three surgeries — two of which happening within a four-day span — before becoming an ambassador for the Windsor Regional Cancer Foundation's 2023 Lock Out Cancer campaign.

The foundation celebrated the end of its sixth Lock Out Cancer campaign Sunday with a special ceremony, honouring all five of this year's campaign ambassadors.

Lock Out Cancer rallies the community throughout the month of May to support cancer research, treatment and patient care.

According to the foundation, more than $100,000 was raised this past month to Lock Out Cancer — adding to the $500,000+ which was previously raised during the first five years of the campaign.

This year's campaign contributed to the acquisition of advanced surgical tools, enhancing the quality of care and recovery for breast reconstruction and other cancer-related procedures.

Houdia Kassem, executive director for the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation, said there were an estimated 3,200 new cases that walked through its doors in 2022.

That equates to more than eight new people every day.

"It lends to the importance of screening and to remind our women in our community to get screened," said Kassem.

"I know it's laborious and nobody wants to do it but it's key to your health."

In total, the foundation added, there were 110,000 visits last year for lab work, oncology appointments, radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

For Kassem, these numbers point to the urgent need for people to make an appointment for a cancer screening before it's too late.

"We don't want to see you walking through the cancer centre's doors. We don't want you here. Instead, we want to make sure you're doing the preventative measures so that you don't have to come to the centre to be seen," she said.

"The pain of a mammogram is nothing in comparison to a lifetime of an illness you don't want."

As for Turner, who is still undergoing chemotherapy, the 26-year-old said early intervention could haved saved her from having to go through emergency surgery.

"If I could have done more MRIs beforehand, I would have done them" said Turner.

She credits the doctors inside the cancer centre for helping her navigate what has been a very personal and challenging journey.

However, those very same doctors require ongoing support from the community as this campaign returns for years to come, she added.

"I never thought, at 25, I was going to need ths foundation," said Turner.

"Your family might need this foundation. Someone you love might need this foundation."

When asked what keeps her going every day, Turner points to her family and friends, positive mindset and the cancer centre community she has come to know and love.

"I have the best oncologists and nurses I could ask for. I even had the best surgeons and nurses when I was in the hospital," said Turner.

"I couldn't ask for better support."

Click here to learn more about all five of this year's Lock Out Cancer campaign ambassadors. Top Stories

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