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Unmasking the Reality of Lung Cancer looks to raise funds for U of C’s cancer research initiatives

By Julieanne Acosta, June 1 2022

Unmasking the Reality of Lung Cancer is a not-for-profit organization that raises funds for the University of Calgary’s lung cancer research initiatives as a way to help provide support for projects and cancer treatment services.

The organization is hoping to increase lung cancer education by both advocating for and supporting a multitude of initiatives anywhere from prevention strategies to research to well-established programs. 

Unmasking the Reality of Lung Cancer’s upcoming fundraiser — a Mardi Gras and Pirate-themed gala — is set to be held on June 10 at the Hellenic Community Centre.  

The founder and chair of the organization, Diane Colton, is a three-time lung cancer survivor who seeks to battle the stigma behind the disease and advocate for fundraising. 

“I live in sync with my cancer. It is part of my life and I have to live to the fullest I can,” said Colton to Lung Cancer Canada. “I do not ask ‘why me?’ That will never be answered, and I am not using up my precious life energy and wasting it.”

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Colton discussed the upcoming gala event as well as the ones the organization has arranged in the past. 

“This is our third gala. We didn’t have one in 2020 and our original start time for this year was supposed to be in February, but COVID-19 interfered with that,” said Colton. “We moved our gala to June 10 and we’re again raising funds for the Arnie Charbonneau [Cancer Institute] and the OWN.CANCER program.”

Attendants of the gala can expect Cajun food, live music, dancing, and door prizes. Colton touched on the goal of the fundraiser and some of the other key features of the gala. 

“This year, we are looking to raise approximately $75,000 to $100,000 for the university,” said Colton. “We are still in need of volunteers because events like this take a lot of people and a lot of organization. The other one is to attend the event if you can. [There’s going to be] lots of great prizes with over 200 contributors and some special projects for several lung cancer patients who have passed.” 

Colton explained her own personal connection to the U of C’s cancer facilities and how it impacted her cancer treatments.

“I’m where I am today because of all the fabulous doctors and researchers at the U of C. It’s made a huge difference. The first time [I had lung cancer] was in 2011 when I had major thoracic surgery to have a lung removed and to take the tumour [out],” said Colton. “I again had another series of tumours show up in 2012 in my right groin and due to the specialists and the research development that happens at the U of C, my tumours were totally destroyed in a very short order with very little treatment. 

“My last series was in 2019 when my cancer metastasized into my brain and I was again fortunate [with] the oncologist and the doctors at the Tom Baker [Cancer Centre] and Arnie Charbonneau [Cancer Institute] that I only had three treatments,” Colton continued. “Now, understand that people who have cancers of the lung do not get to have the life I get to have — more than 70 per cent [of those diagnosed] will die within the first year and our statistics right now for surviving five years is just sitting at 22 per cent.” 

Colton will be speaking more on her experience with cancer and on why she campaigns and fundraises for this cause at the gala. 

To learn more about Unmasking The Reality of Lung Cancer, visit their website. To buy tickets for the Mardi Gras and Pirate-themed gala, visit their eventbrite. To volunteer for the gala, visit their Sign-Up Genius

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