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'Evil' disease lends inspiration to party

Longtime Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Jean MacPherson wants her 80th birthday party to help children living with cancer. - Tracy Holmes photo
Longtime Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Jean MacPherson wants her 80th birthday party to help children living with cancer.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

Jean MacPherson could have gone on vacation to celebrate her upcoming 80th birthday, and it's unlikely anyone would have argued the occasion didn't warrant the treat.

But the longtime Canadian Cancer Society volunteer wanted the milestone to mean something more.

She wanted it to help children living with cancer.

So instead of packing her suitcase, the White Rock resident is planning a party, and everyone who wants to celebrate the day is invited.

MacPherson hopes to see 200 people over the course of the afternoon, set for 1-5 p.m. Aug. 7. Highlights are to include music, refreshments, a silent auction and a 50/50 draw.

At the end of the day, she hopes to have $5,000 to donate to Camp Goodtimes, a program that gives children living with cancer the opportunity to go to camp.

Making a difference to those living – and dying – with the disease has been MacPherson's passion for 15 years. A cancer survivor herself, she volunteers with CCS' White Rock office, and "has my nose in everything."

In addition to co-ordinating the annual door-to-door campaign for the past 12 years, MacPherson plays a role in the society's daffodil program and the annual Relay for Life. She's also a walking advertisement for the cause, sporting everything from long-service pins to the trademark daffodil on the lapel of her black CCS vest, and talks it up to anyone willing to listen.

She's also a shoulder to lean on, for those who need it.

The reason for all of her efforts is simple.

"It's an evil disease that affects little kids, old people. Doesn't matter who you are… you can get it," MacPherson said.

"Just gotta figure out why and do so something about it.

"That's why I do this, because you gotta have a reason to get up in the morning."

MacPherson emphasized funds collected by the society do not solely benefit research. While finding a cure is the ultimate goal, there's much more to cancer than that, she said.

"There's all those people that are living with it that need help," she said. "I always say the cancer society is an umbrella over everything to do with cancer."

MacPherson recalled one woman who was dealing with throat cancer, who would come by the White Rock office when she needed to schedule a ride to one of her treatments. Unable to speak, she would write her request down, MacPherson said.

But one day, the woman's note wasn't about needing a ride.

"She wrote, 'I just came to say goodbye,'" MacPherson said. "I lost it.

"That's the sort of thing that makes it worth doing, when you have a relationship."

For those wanting to attend MacPherson's birthday party, it will be held at 16655 27 Ave. Anyone unable to attend but wanting to donate to the cause can do so online at www.copsforcancerbc.ca/tourdevalley/birthdayparty

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