Jamie Fretz-Stone and five other women who survived breast cancer paddled the Bowron Lake wilderness circuit last summer.
"It was horrible," she said. "I had every single symptom in the book, even ones they'd never heard of. And of course I was very, very sick but still put on about 45 pounds in that six months."
She grins at that last statement.
"Ten years later, I'm still fighting to take that off."
Following the chemo, Fretz-Stone opted for the most radical option of a full mastectomy on one side. She remained nervous until she had officially been cancer-free for five years.
"After five years, they say if you get cancer again it's a new cancer, not the old one coming back, so I was looking forward to hitting that five-year mark."
One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and one in 29 will die from the disease. Thanks to fundraising and research, however, breast cancer mortality rates have dropped by nearly 40 per cent since 1986.
Nine communities in B.C. participate in the CIBC Run for the Cure, and Kelowna's event last year saw 1,647 participants raise $306,226.
Fretz-Stone got involved with the event through her dragon boat team, Bust'n Loose, just six months after finishing her chemo. It was a relief.
"You can talk to people who understand where you were coming from, what you'd been through. There is a real sense of camaraderie there."
Last summer, six members of that team completed the Bowron Lake wilderness circuit, a world-renowned nine-day voyage by water through some of Canada's wildest country. Using two canoes and two kayaks, the women battled heavy rain and a hailstorm to complete the journey.
"It was truly empowering," said Fretz-Stone. "I don't think we would have thought to take on a challenge like that if our mutual experience of surviving breast cancer hadn't given us confidence in our own inner strength.
If Fretz-Stone learned anything on her journey with breast cancer, it was to be aware of your body.
"Get a doctor you're comfortable with, and always be checking," she said. "It can affect anybody. I have a half-sister who is 17 years younger than me who developed the exact same cancer two years after me. And we had no history of any cancer in our family."
Ten years after the diagnosis and cancer-free, Fretz-Stone maintains a positive spirit about how her experience may have benefited others.
"We know that one in nine women will get breast cancer, so maybe now eight of my friends are safe," she said, smiling.
To register for the CBCF CIBC Run for the Cure, or to donate, go to www.runforthecure.com.