A moving story about hope, honour, and courage

Davis Bay resident Colleen Adair is taking all the right steps in her effort to raise awareness about women’s cancers.

Last weekend, Adair walked 60 km in the eighth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers in memory of her spouse Rita Bruneski who died from ovarian cancer in April 2010.

Adair and Bruneski walked together in the 2004 event to honour Bruneski’s mother, who passed away from bladder cancer. Adair’s brother is now battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a good friend of hers has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, giving Adair even more inspiration to participate in this year’s walk.

Adair said Bruneski had no symptoms of the disease, but when a reading was picked up on her annual exam, Adair did her best to support Bruneski through her illness.

“When Rita was first diagnosed, I said, “Why you? I mean Rita was an athlete. She was on the national Canadian team for women’s field hockey. She did all the right things,” said Adair.

Diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer, Bruneski engaged in regular treatment, but chose to include traditional and holistic medicine.

“Life just changes on a dime,” said Adair. “Rita was an absolute trooper. She didn’t like the word fight or aggressive wording like that. She worked hard and made lots of changes. If our GP hadn’t picked it up, I doubt that we would have had those three years.

“Rita was very, very hopeful, probably until the last two months, that she was going to be able to manage this as a long-term illness. The doctors were really clear from the get-go that there was no cure in her case, but she remained hopeful.”

Adair said she finds ovarian cancer “a scary cancer.”

“And I don’t like to use those words because I don’t like to give away the power on it but it just sneaks up on women,” she said. “Cancer is an epidemic, one that needs to be further examined. The research piece and funding research is key and it’s a big piece, but I think it’s only part of the piece. We need to get to the root of the cause of what’s going on and why there seems to be so much cancer.”

Adair raised $2,500, adding it was a great event for both her and her participating friends.

“The weather was perfect for walking and we all had a lot of fun as we chatted about life, cancer, surviving, what Rita gave to us, and how much we each enjoyed spending time with each other as we walked, talked, were silent, and developed some camaraderie with other walkers. It was a memorable weekend in many ways, and Rita was with us often, if not all, on the walk,” she said.



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3 responses to “A moving story about hope, honour, and courage

  1. This was one of the most moving things I have written since I took the job here. Knowing someone right now who is terminally ill with cancer, interviewing Adair and assembling her and Rita’s story helped me understand that sometime there are things we just can’t understand – we can only accept – whether we want to or not.

  2. Colleen


    Thanks for your article, and the post here. The more exposure/awareness given to women’s gynocolgical cancers, the more chance we all have of coming up with a screening method.
    You are correct that events unfold that make no sense, that we can’t understand as we go the distance. Sometimes there aren’t any answers to oru questions.
    Keep writing!

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