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By Diana Daghofer, Fundraising Chair, Prevent Cancer Now
In 2011, Jyl Chegwin and Roger Hol decided to have a big birthday party for Jyl’s 49th birthday. Jyl had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer, and was told it was unlikely she would celebrate her 50th. The gregarious couple went all out, booking two bands and inviting 150 of their friends to their beautiful winery on the shores of the Similkameen River – Vineglass Renewal Resort.
The event was a smashing success! People danced, laughed and enjoyed a terrific dinner. One enterprising guest declared it such a success that it should be an annual fundraiser. She kicked things off by auctioning the event posters and raising $1200. The Quest for the Cure was born, and has continued raising funds for cancer prevention ever since.
Jyl passed away in June 2014, and one might think that the Quest for the Cure would have had a sombre tone this year, given that its founder and driving force was no longer there to celebrate her birthday. Anything but! Last September’s event was the most successful yet, with guests dancing into the wee hours of the morning and raising $17,000. Jyl’s drive and enthusiasm for prevention could not be squelched, and Roger is every bit as excited as ever to contribute to cancer prevention!
From the beginning, Jyl and Roger wanted to focus their fundraiser on cancer prevention. Both were avid “foodies,” concerned about healthy eating and living, and committed to sustainable farming. Vineglass Renewal Resort follows sustainable practices in growing wine grapes.
Although they were already two years into the event, Jyl and Roger were really pleased to come across Prevent Cancer Now, and began contributing half the proceedings to PCN. They were impressed with PCN’s approach to addressing the environmental causes of cancer, and its focus on advocacy to rid our air, water, food and other products of cancer-causing agents.
Jyl far out-lived her doctors’ predictions, largely because of her personal strength and conviction that we all have the power to heal our bodies. “Jyl was a very special person,” says Roger. “She was totally dedicated to a prevention regime and had the most positive attitude to overcoming adversity – whatever was thrown her way.”
Jyl worked closely with a naturopathic oncologist who used internationally proven treatments to deal specifically with the cancer as it affected her. Roger credits her treatment, along with Jyl’s strength of will, to the fact that Jyl far outlasted her prognosis.
Jyl and Roger’s own research confirmed their belief that refined foods and the chemicals around us are causing cancer. Jyl attributed her brain cancer to years of extensive cell phone use. Roger continues to decry the close links between “the business of cancer” and those who pay for cancer research. He is painfully aware of how little funding goes into the primary prevention of cancer – only about 2% of all public funding (our tax dollars and donations). “Prevention is the only way to go. Jyl’s death makes my commitment to prevention even stronger. If more people followed PCN’s 12 tips for cancer prevention, fewer people would get cancer.”
Roger uses every opportunity to stress the importance of cancer prevention, all the while working towards the bigger goal he and Jyl dreamed about – an organic agriculture university in the Similkameen Valley. The area already has one of the highest concentrations of organic growers in Canada, with the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association active since 1985. This university would teach organic agriculture, along with the culinary arts, field to plate, as we all should eat.
Meanwhile, fundraising for cancer prevention continues. Planning has already begun for 2015. In fact, Jyl had been planning for the best-ever, fifth anniversary event for some time before her passing. Along with the great food, music and amazing auction items, next year guests will have the opportunity to sleep in deluxe tipis, or one of the suites at VineGlass Renewal Resort and Winery.
It sounds like an event not to be missed. Jyl’s inspiration and Roger’s drive are creating a contingent of cancer prevention allies, now named “Sentinels Against Cancer”, that will make a difference!
Mark your calendar! Next year’s Quest for the Cure will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2015.
Diana Daghofer is the Chair of Fundraising, and past Co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now