Celebrating International Women's Day With The Women Of The Fight To End Cancer

January 19, 2018
Filed Under: Ambassador Features, Fighter Features, Top Stories

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On average, 103,100 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cancer and 40,400 women will die from cancer.

Each year, the Fight To End Cancer Gala features at least one female bout that proves to be the ‘Fight Of The Night’.

Join us on March 8th, as we celebrate International Women’s Day by reflecting on all of the hard work that our past, and present, female fighters have put into training to step into our ring and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised (collectively between them), in support of cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Photo Description: (left to right) Heather MacDonald, Christina Vatsis, Dawn Millar and Alison Turnbull, along with their 6 teammates hope to raise over $250,000.00 this year alone. Learn how you can join them in their Fight To End Cancer. View FTEC2018 Fight Team.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Huggins
Founder, Executive Director
Phone: +1.416.666.9314
Email address: jennifer@fighttoendcancer.com


Countless women have dedicated their lives to ending cancer. Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day, with the Women Of The Fight To End Cancer by taking a look at some of their incredible stories…


Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn

Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn

JENNIFER HUGGINS – FOUNDER | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

“I am commonly asked why I choose to “fight” cancer.  The truth is, there are so many causes out there that need to be supported and one day I hope to fight for all of them.  I fight cancer as these diseases continue to attack those who mean the world to me – my community.

The Fight To End Cancer started as an outlet through which I could bring together all of my passions:  boxing, business and entertainment.  Developing this unique fundraising event allowed me the ability to try to fulfill my dream of building a stronger, healthier community.

I believe that fighting is in our DNA.  It is a skill we develop when dealing with adverse situations.  Sometimes, we choose to fight and other times we are forced to.  The battle which one faces with cancer, is much like a boxing match; only the decision to step into the ring was made for them along with their opponent. The team that stands behind a boxer can make, or break their fight.  It is no different for someone who is faced with the reality of having to fight cancer – the team behind them can make all the difference.

Cancer does not discriminate.  We have all watched, painfully, as it attacks friends and family, both young and old.  It tests the limits, of not only the victim, but also of their loved ones.  Maintaining the physical strength it takes to go to battle with cancer is something that can take virtually everything out of an individual.  However, the burning flame to fight and to win must never be extinguished – those who can fight – must.” ~ More About Jennifer


 

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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

DAWN MILLAR | FTEC2018 FIGHTER

Every day Dawn Millar finds her motivation to train for FTEC 2018 in the eyes of her children.  Dawn’s father passed away due to cancer at the age of 51, just months before the birth of her first child, who was his first grandchild.  Dawn felt like her life had ‘blown apart’ when she lost her Dad, but as an FTEC fighter she wants to prove that Defeat is Not an Option.  More About Dawn


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

HEATHER MACDONALD | FTEC2018 FIGHTER

Heather MacDonald endured the agony of watching her father endure a two-year battle with soft-tissue sarcoma, which ended with his untimely passing in 2009.  Heather says her Dad fought harder than she knew was ‘humanly possible’.  Now it’s Heather’s turn to mirror her father’s strength and determination, as she steps into the ring as a 2018 FTEC fighter.  More About Heather


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

CHRISTINA VATSIS | FTEC2018 FIGHTER

Christina Vatsis is no stranger to loss, or to the transformative power of giving back.  Christina lost her father to colon cancer in 2009, and witnessed her aunt’s intensive and debilitating treatments for breast cancer.  Christina is a prolific volunteer and she has previously donated her time to an orphanage in Africa and raised funds for a number of important charitable causes.  Now, as an FTEC 2018 fighter, Christina will be channeling her talent toward her goal of raising funds for critical cancer research, that might have helped save her Dad.    A veteran flight attendant, Christina prides herself on being courteous and polite.  She plans to maintain her signature smile with every punch that she lands on fight night. More About Christina


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

ALISON TURNBULL | FTEC2018 FIGHTER

Like many of us, Alison Turnbull has been directly touched by cancer, losing her mother to the disease in 2016.  A veteran attendee of the annual Fight To End Cancer gala, Alison says she was motivated to become a fighter when she witnessed the level of commitment to training she saw in the FTEC team.  She is  the most recent member in a long line of fighters coming from Eagle Professional Resources and was surprised to learn that scoring the W on fight night will be included on this year’s performance review. More about Alison


Leslie and her mom Evelyn after she fought in Fight To End Cancer 2015.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Theodorou | Leslie and her mom Evelyn after she fought in Fight To End Cancer 2015.

LESLIE EHM | FTEC2015 FIGHTER & FTEC2018 PRESENTING PARTNER

“Everyone has a fight in life.  Some fight to be heard, some to go unnoticed, some to shine and some just to survive.  On May 30th, 2015, at 51 years of age, I got into the ring to fight.  It was a bucket list thing for me!  Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve been a fighter all of my life.  I always refer to it as ‘the good fight’ – the relentless pursuit of goodness and what’s ‘right’.  I try to fight that good fight every day.  But for one incredible night, I got to fight not just the ‘good fight’, but a super badass one as well.  Not only did I get to take on an opponent and go three rounds in a real amateur bout, (which is beyond cool), I also got to raise my fists against the evil that is cancer.  Because every drop of sweat, and every punch thrown and taken was  in solidarity with those who have faced the disease and won or lost and for everyone who loved those fighters.  For my Uncle Stevie, for my cousin Elli, for the grandmother I never met, for my friend Philip, for my friends – especially Dayna who is battling breast cancer today – family and a better future – this fight was for all of you.”


Mariela Burkett is held high as she is honoured by her supporters after hosting the most successful Survivor Bootcamp earlier this year!

Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

MARIELA BURKETT | OFFICIAL FTEC AMBASSADOR

Mariela is incredibly motivated and driven to helping out families with the mental, physical, and financial struggle that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.  She has lived through it herself and knows all about the fight that lasts through diagnosis, remission, and life after cancer.  She is committed to supporting others going through a similar fight.  Mariela took her passion for fitness, and her dedication to helping others, and created a “Survivor Bootcamp” fitness workshop.  She runs these bootcamps annually and semi-annually, in May and November, with all proceeds going towards providing financial support to cancer fighters and their families. More about Mariela


Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

ALLISON DELLANDREA | FTEC2017 FIGHTER

“In 2004, when I was six months pregnant with our third child, I received my diagnosis of advanced thyroid cancer.  I was told I needed immediate surgery to remove the tumour and affected lymph nodes, and that treatment would follow promptly after my baby’s birth.  Traces of the shock of that moment, and its impact on my whole family, still linger with me today.
Thanks to the treatment and ongoing care that I receive at The Princess Margaret, my story is now a happy one.  My son weathered the storm of our diagnosis and surgery like a true fighter, and arrived in the world smiling (… and hasn’t really stopped smiling since).  After treatment, and two more surgeries, I’m now in remission, and have the privilege of good health.  I’m not afraid of my cancer anymore.  My caregivers at PMH have taken care of this fear.  Now it’s my turn to support their work, so that they can help other patients whose fears are not relieved, and whose lives depend on their results.  ” ~ More about Allison


Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

AMANDA GALLE | TGE2017 FIGHTER

“When I am asked what does the term cancer means to me, I say to you it is responsible for the loss of my grandfather Carmine, the pain my grandmother Paulina is suffering, and the refight my mom is undergoing.

The term cancer has caused opponents that I have faced to take recognition in defeating me in that ring, but it was not my opponents that beat me, it was the cancer around me.  The support I have extended to my family over and over has consumed so much of me.

The term cancer, is the reason I train physically 2- 4 hours everyday, to better myself mentally, so that emotionally I can guide and support my mother to victory!  I physically fight with my two hands.  Everything she has to go through physically, emotionally and spiritually, that I cannot overcome and fight for her.

So, I do this in honour of her.  I do this to execute the rage I feel.  I do this to be stable enough to endure it all, and most of all I do this in honour of those that it has defeated” ~ More about Amanda


Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn Photography |

Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn Photography

SARA HAGHIGHAT-JOO | TGE2017 FIGHTER

“I didn’t know my grandfather too well, but I did see my mother suffer from her father’s passing, due to cancer.  It was very hard to see her go through such pain.  I also saw legendary coach Adrian Teodorescu suffer from lymphoma last year and it left me feeling very hopeless.  It’s sad to see someone just fade away in front of your eyes and not be able to do anything for them.  Fight to End Cancer, to me, means that we continue to have this opportunity, to contribute to finding a cure.  I believe that as technology and research evolves, we will find a cure to beat this disease, and no longer allow it to leave our families and friends in pain.” ~ More about Sara


Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

JESSICA BRUGESS | TGE2017 FIGHTER

Jessica was born and raised in Sudbury Ontario and has been active all her life.  She has participated in activities like horseback riding, long range large bore target shooting and cross country running, to name just a few.  You might find her out on the trails, foraging for wild greens or practicing her photography, when she’s not in the gym.  She’s married to Lisa Lepage, a producer at CTV Sudbury.

Jessica was a member of the Breast Action Coalition of Sudbury, who’s mission was to centralize breast cancer screening and treatment, giving patients quicker, easier access to the services they require.  She was thrilled to be featured on the fight card at the inaugural Friday Night Fights ‘To End Cancer’ in 2017 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. More about Jessica


 

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ANGIE SETH | FTEC2017 MASTER OF CEREMONIES (Weekend News Anchor Of Global News At 6)

“Fight to End Cancer is an incredible initiative I am honoured to be a part of.  It’s mandate and those involved are not only raw and honest, but are truly an inspiration to what it means to battle cancer or to be along side someone who has.  These survivors are our Heroes and it’s important to celebrate their victory, but to also create the opportunity for more victories down the road!

Sadly we have all been touched by cancer, but through groups like Fight To End Cancer, we can work towards prevention and a cure.  I know what cancer does to a person and a family – I have experienced that loss first hand from losing colleagues, friends, and family.  I think of them every day and feel torn by the loss.  I also know I too can be a victim, but refuse to let it happen without a battle.  Cancer is a brutal killer that destroys everything around it and leaves the rest of us in fear.  But rather than being scared, let’s fight together….We will win together!” ~ More about Angie


Photo Credit: Kingsway Boxing Club

Photo Credit: Kingsway Boxing Club

SHIREEN FABING | FTEC2013 FIGHTER

“Working in the corporate world, I always feel like I have my boxing gloves on, but on June 15th, 2013 I proudly “put ‘em up” to support cancer research through, what I believe, is a noble cause.  Jennifer Huggins and Kingsway Boxing is proof that we can all help in the Fight To End Cancer, so I am honored to be a fighter.  Like many, I’ve been robbed of loved ones and lived through the pain and suffering with victims, friends and colleagues who have experienced the same.  I dedicated my three rounds to loved ones lost, survivors and those still fighting this ruthless disease.” ~ More About Shireen


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Photo Credit: Nicholas Theodorou

GEORGIA CURTIS | FTEC2015 FIGHTER

“I am excited and proud to have participated in the Fight To End Cancer 2015! Over the years I have paddled, run, and golfed in various fundraising efforts for cancer-related causes.  I know way too many people who have fought, or are fighting cancer…my guess is that you do too. I trained for five months and fundraised in preparation of my match on May 30th, 2015.  I stepped into the ring and fought like hell for an important cause.  This fight was for my pal Cindy Weeks.  She battled breast cancer and was cancer-free for years.  In 2008, cancer returned and since then, Cindy has lived with metastatic disease.  Her brave tenacity is both heroic and inspiring – she is the toughest fighter I know. She believes that breakthroughs will come, and that cancer can be beaten” ~ More about Georgia


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Photo Credit: Paige Cunningham

PAIGE CUNNINGHAM | FTEC2015 FIGHTER

“Everyone, in one way or another, has been, or will be affected by cancer. Personally, I have lost aunts and both of my grandfathers to this terrible disease. I have many loved ones who continue to fight with cancer and some who went through the cancer journey and came out on top.  Every fight is different.  My grandpa died of prostate cancer in 2000.  In 2005, I found out that my dad also had prostate cancer.  I immediately thought the worst as I had little knowledge of cancer as a whole.  My dad had a prostatectomy and THANKFULLY is coming up on his 10th year, CANCER FREE.  I feel so blessed and VERY lucky.  My hope for the future is that enough preventative measures will be in place so that NO ONE will have to face up against cancer EVER again.  The fight to end cancer is an uphill battle for everyone involved.  It is a group effort and without funds raised so researchers can work their magic, there would be no advancements made.” ~ More about Paige


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Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn Photography

NATASA JAMNIK-SOUSA | FTEC2016 FIGHTER

Natasa and her family have had countless loved ones affected by cancer – many surviving, some still fighting and unfortunately, three family members that lost their battle.  Natasa dedicated her fight to them in 2016.

“14 years ago I lost my sister to osteo sarcoma – the same type of cancer as Terry Fox.  She was my older and only sister.  The pain of experiencing such a loss at the young age of 17 is immeasurable.  Most recently my aunt lost the fight against cancer.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer and fought valiantly until her last breath.  My grandfather, unfortunately is another member of my family who I lost to cancer.”


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

KATE HILLIER | FTEC2013 FIGHTER

It’s hard to “throw a stone” these days and not touch someone who has been affected in some way by cancer.  Personally, cancer is a reality that I have faced with my immediate family, my extended family, my friends and my community. For all who have lost, have won and continue fighting, I was happy to throw on my gloves to fight for those in need.  I dedicated my fight in memory of my Tante Monique, who survived breast cancer, and to my partner in crime Marilyn.  “You never know how strong you are…until being strong is the only choice you have” ~ More about Kate


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

KASSANDRA O’REILLY | FTEC2012 & TGE2017

“Unfortunately, cancer is a disease that touches us all in one way or another.  I know personally how it can affect you, having lost both of my grandparents due to lung cancer.  Sometimes feelings and life style changes caused by cancer can become very overwhelming.  This can leave us feeling sad, anxious, angry or even hopeless.  I believe that awareness is so important for those who are struggling – whether it’s you personally, your friends or family.

The fight to end cancer means fighting for those who cannot.  I am fighting to support the fighters, admire the survivors and honour the taken.  I would like to personally dedicate my fight to Coach David and Ainsley, who’s wives recently lost their battles, and to Dale and his wife who are currently fighting this horrible disease.

We are too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated” More about Kassandra


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JANAYA KHAN | FTEC2012 FIGHTER

Janaya Khan, known as “the future in the Black Lives Matter movement”. Janaya is a Black, queer, gender non-conforming activist, staunch Afro-futurist, social justice educator and boxer based in Toronto, Canada.  As the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, they are committed to Black liberation, transformative justice and indigenous sovereignty and operate through a Black trans-feminist lens.  She strongly believes, that the focus and determination that boxing requires, can be used as a tool of empowerment.


Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn

Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn Photography

JANE WATSON | FTEC2014 FIGHTER

“One very small effort to advance the fight to find a cure for cancer in our lifetime –the Fight To End Cancer – was a chance to do just that and I am honoured to have had this opportunity.  I have watched too many people I dearly love fight cancer.  They have faced it head on with grace and courage. They are the true fighters.  As I trained, and the challenge got tougher, those who have battled cancer – family, friends and colleagues – were in my thoughts. It is their strength, as they endure each step of their journey, that truly inspired me to push on.  So, for all those I care so deeply about, who have looked cancer in the eye, those who continue to fight – you were my inspiration.  The Fight To End Cancer is an amazing opportunity to contribute to finding a cure for cancer in our lifetime.”


Photo Credit: Vincent Dayrit | Dawn Ramsay-Brown was one of only two women who represented the 2014 Fight To End Cancer Fight Team.

Photo Credit: Vincent Dayrit | Dawn Ramsay-Brown was one of only two women who represented the 2014 Fight To End Cancer Fight Team.

DAWN RAMSAY-BROWN | FTEC2014 FIGHTER

“The Fight To End Cancer means a chance to fight for all the memories that still need to be made.  My daughter will never be able to look into her grandmother’s eyes and see her own, as cancer stole Judith Ramsay from us, before they could ever meet.  As we watch a close friend battling this disease today, I realize how hard we all must fight to protect the memories that are still to come.  It is such a privilege to wake up with a healthy body every day, that I wanted to put it to good use, for a great cause.”


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Photo Credit: Virgil Barrow

KIM HAMILL | FTEC2017 FIGHTER

“In one form or another, we have all been affected by cancer.  I was privileged to be a part of the 2017 Fight To End Cancer and knew that the 6 months of training would be demanding, both physically and mentally.  My fight paled in comparison to the real fight a person diagnosed with cancer faces every second, of every day.  I’m committed to providing hope and being in their corner as we get one step closer to conquering cancer in our lifetime.”


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Photo Credit: Spencer Wynn

SAMANTHA KRYSTANTOS | FTEC2016 FIGHTER

“I have personally been touched by this terrible disease, as I’m sure most of you reading this have as well.  My Father, Mitch, fought in the 2014 event.  My Uncle, Ryan, fought in 2015 and in 2016 I followed in their footsteps with the same exact goal in mind… to kick cancer’s butt!

Growing up as a little girl the word Cancer was always an open topic of conversation.  My dad was a volunteer at Sick Kids hospital for over 16 years. Through his experiences, he came home to talk to me about what it’s like being a part of an organization and helping others.  My father’s passion to help others left a mark on me growing up and I will continue to fight the disease until it no longer exists.” ~ More about Samantha


Fight To End Cancer is proud to announce FTEC 2015 Fighter, Erica McMaster as our new Director of Public Relations. Photo Credit: Nicholas Theodorou

Photo Credit: Nicholas Theodorou

ERICA MCMASTER – FTEC2015 FIGHTER

“In the spring of 2014, my other half expressed his desire to apply to be one of the fighters for FTEC 2015 – naturally I was supportive and pretty quickly decided I wanted to go down the road together.  Several months later, I had no doubt that this journey would be one of the most physically and emotionally demanding to date, but also the most rewarding.  Cancer has affected most of us in some shape or form.

Personally, I lost my mother to the disease when I was just shy of my twelfth birthday; it goes without saying that her absence has had an enormous impact on my life.  I miss her every day.  Two of my grandparents have died from cancer and, just last year, a childhood friend at the age of 34.  Add to that the friends who have lost parents and loved ones – it’s too much.  Being a fighter in this incredible event gave me the chance to make a difference and punch cancer in the face on behalf of all those we’ve lost, and those who continue to fight it every day.  We are so fortunate to have the resources available to us that we do.”


About Fight To End Cancer…

The Fight To End Cancer (FTEC) is a year round initiative carried out by ambassadors, sponsors and volunteers worldwide. Funds raised by FTEC are donated directly to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Each year we celebrate the incredible hard work and dedication of our FTEC family with a black-tie charity boxing gala. This gala showcases 10 men and women who represent our Official Fight Team. More About Us or Join The Fight!

Media Contact:
Jennifer Huggins
Founder, Executive Director
Phone: +1.416.666.9314
Email address: jennifer@fighttoendcancer.com

Fight For Adrian

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