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1,000 join 60K walk to end women's cancers

By Erica Bulman, 24 Hours Vancouver

Kelly Ferguson carries her daughter Keira as she crosses the finish line after walking 60 km at the eighth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women's Cancers event in Vancouver, Sunday. Kelly was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer while she was pregnant and had a left breast mastectomy to remove a tumour. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Kelly Ferguson carries her daughter Keira as she crosses the finish line after walking 60 km at the eighth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women's Cancers event in Vancouver, Sunday. Kelly was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer while she was pregnant and had a left breast mastectomy to remove a tumour. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Kelly Ferguson was 24 weeks pregnant when her doctor announced she had Stage 2 breast cancer. Shocked, she barely remembers anything else from the appointment.

"I could see her mouth talking but I couldn't hear the words after that," said Ferguson, diagnosed in May 2010. "I would love for a day when you hear the cancer word and you don't think you're going to die."

The 37-year-old - who successfully beat the disease and gave birth to a healthy baby girl - is bent on making that day a reality. So she joined over 1,000 people Saturday and Sunday to walk 60 kilometres at the eighth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women's Cancers.

"If I could share anything with women is that you can get through it, and relatively unscathed," Ferguson told 24 hours. "Some people aren't so lucky but some are."

Ferguson was fortunate. A miscarriage triggered symptoms of the cancer, which she took for an obstructed duct in her left breast. Pregnant again, she pushed her doctor to investigate.

Two-weeks later, she had a mastectomy to remove a lime-size tumour and in a risky move, she held off chemo for another eight weeks to protect her baby.

Only after giving birth prematurely did Ferguson undergo chemo and an elective right breast mastectomy.

According to the B.C. Cancer Foundation, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer in B.C. was just 60 per cent in 1975. Today, it's 89.1 per cent.