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Weekend event to support

local family

Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
Rebecca Tanti and her daughter Paige Tanti sit on the front porch of their Catherine Street home, which has been Rebecca’s sanctuary as she goes through treatments for breast cancer.
by Wendy Spence
THE SIGNPOST

        Eleven-year-old Paige Tanti of Dorchester spearheaded a bottle drive to help her mother Rebecca, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
        “I was thinking, how can we raise money not just for my mom, but for breast cancer too, not just for her particularly? Every year, I play on our competitive hockey team,” explained the Northdale Central student. “We raise money for tournaments with a bottle drive. So I figured that we should put together a bottle drive for her.” Her brother Cole thought it was a good idea too so he’s been helping out, along with other family members and friends.
        Residents can drop off bottles at the family’s home at 4101 Catherine Street and a number of other locations in the area and they can also bring empties to the EOA Block Party, Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21 at Powerhouse Brewing Company, 100 Kellogg’s Lane in London. Admission is free and guests are asked to help fill the keg at the door or bring their empties. Entertainers for Saturday’s concert include Bobnoxious and the event also features a barbecue, patio games, a photo booth, giveaways and more. Details are available on the Powerhouse Brewing and FM96 Facebook pages and event pages. “I think we’re going to get our goal,” said Paige. “My mom said, and I agree with her, that we will take some of the money. But we’ll donate the rest to the Cancer Society.”
        Many residents have dropped off their empties over the past three weeks or so. The Mill Pond Tap and Grill made a large donation. “I was shocked and very pleased at that,” Rebecca said. “I thought that was just really fantastic.”
        Paige and Rebecca’s partner Mark Morgan count the bottles, with help from friends. He takes them to the distribution centre. Proceeds help support Rebecca and Morgan’s five children and her treatment. “It’s financially draining on us,” said Rebecca.
        Paige said her mom is doing well. Rebecca has lost her hair and was scheduled for her third round of chemotherapy this week. “I’m really excited for her to be done chemotherapy and radiation so she can hit the gong,” Paige said, referring to the tradition that signals the completion of cancer treatment. Rebecca’s treatments will continue until the end of October or November.
        Paige has been very supportive of her mother through her journey, beginning the day that Rebecca was diagnosed. “I prepared to take it all in and not to cry about it because I didn’t want to make it worse on her. When she got home, she was crying so I just gave her a big hug and I said everything’s going to be okay.” Paige was at the hospital for her mother’s 16-hour surgery – a double mastectomy with a double bilateral reconstruction, which she said was very difficult in many ways. The recuperation time and healing time were quite extensive. Rebecca got up and sat in a chair within a couple of days, determined to get well.
        She carries the BRCA2 gene that makes people more prone to cancer – breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women and breast and prostate in men. “It’s really important for me to educate people on what the BRCA2 gene is, especially because other people can carry it and they don’t even know that they’ve got it until they’re tested for it.” Rebecca said that fortunately she was tested because she has cancer. Other family members will now be tested to see if they also carry the gene.
        Rebecca reminds everyone about the importance of getting checked for breast cancer. “I had the lump there for a while. Please check your breasts and if you have a lump, go and get it checked out.” Rebecca recalled that she thought the lump was a fatty spot, not cancer. “Once I had gone to my doctor, I had a pretty good feeling that there was something more wrong with me than what I was being told.” She was very fatigued and had constant headaches and she was having hot flashes although she’s postmenopausal. Rebecca’s breast size had increased and the area was red and swollen. “If I can help even one person then I’ve succeeded at something, because that’s my goal.”
        She said she’s tried to stay positive. “I refuse to be negative about it. There’s just no sense in being upset. You need to embrace it, look at it as a journey. I can’t change it; I can’t fix it. Hopefully I can help other people learn about breast cancer.” Rebecca has stage 3 cancer. It has spread to her lymph nodes, spleen and liver. “Hopefully the chemotherapy will take care of it. There’s people out there that are struggling a lot more than what I am. That’s my reason to smile. I wake up every day and I’m able to get outside look at the blue sky and the sun and the greenery.” Rebecca makes herself do something every day. “I’m a happy person I always smile. You won’t see me cry, you won’t see me upset. I’m well past that. Even if I got not so pleasant news tomorrow, I would still be smiling because I’ve made it this far. And if I’ve gone through all of this and I’m still smiling. I must continue doing what I’m doing and we’ll get through whatever mountain we have to climb next.” Paige added, “I made her promise that she wouldn’t give up.” Post chemotherapy, Rebecca is very fatigued and suffers a number of other side effects. One she wasn’t aware of was how painful the hair loss was. “It really is painful. It’s very tender and it hurts.”
        Rebecca seeks solace at home. “I enjoy my porch. I sit and relax and I talk to people who are walking by. I can’t be out in the sun so it’s a perfect place to sit.” She looks forward to taking Paige somewhere and doing some fun things with her when she’s finished her treatments. “I really feel like she deserves it. She’s missed out on some things that I’ve really tried to make sure she doesn’t.” Rebecca only missed a few of Paige’s hockey games after she had her surgery. “We made sure that we were there and even though I wasn’t feeling up to it, I didn’t miss it. Things like that forced me to get out of the house.”
        Family members and friends are supporting Rebecca by taking part in the CIBC Run For the Cure in October to raise awareness.
        Rebecca has managed to find a silver lining during her journey. “This whole thing has really restored my faith in humanity. I can honestly say that without a shadow of a doubt. There’s a lot of goodness out there. When something like this happens. It really opens your eyes to what a great community you live in.”

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