Tamara Gignac, a mother, wife, and local journalist is facing one of the toughest challenges you can come across in life, a battle with cancer.
But she is not facing the disease alone.
On Sept. 16, 500 local journalists and other Calgarians attended the Meet the Press fundraiser.
The sold-out fund-raiser event at Crossroads Market raised more than $96,000 for Gignac and her family.
“Thank you everyone, from the bottom of heart,” Gignac told her audience.
“Every single one of you is here for one reason tonight and that is to support my fight against cancer, and to hopefully lighten my family’s load as we slay the dragons.”
On June 20, 2014, Gignac received news that would change her life: She found out she had an inoperable stage four colon cancer that has metastasized to her liver as well as her lungs.
Abdominal pain, cramps and other symptoms are what brought Gignac to the hospital, but with training for a marathon and being in the best shape of her life, she did not expect what the doctors told her.
Colorectal cancer, when caught early, is one of the most treatable of the cancers, but unfortunately, that was not the case for Gignac.
“Please know I intend to fight this disease, and I have no goddamn intention of going anywhere,” Gignac said.
The event included raffle tickets, a silent auction, free food and beverages, live music from Dino Martinis, the Ruminants and the Lovebullies, and appearances by emcee David Gray from CBC Radio, Global TV’s Gord Gillies and Linda Olsen, Calgary Stampeders’ President Gord Norrie and many more.
“The whole notion was just to put together a night to help somebody out, to help out a family that’s near and dear to many people in this community,” said Gray, explaining why so many people came out for the event.
Money raised from the Meet the Press Fundraiser will go to assist Gignac, husband Heath McCoy, and their two children, Bronwyn, 7, and Finn, 3, with cost of child care and other needs while Gignac undergoes chemotherapy treatments, along with other financial needs not covered by insurance.
Those in attendance were moved by Gignac’s courage.
“Her strength is unbelievable,” said Tracy Reynolds. “I do not know her personally, but I think it’s a great cause.”
According to her doctors, Gignac’s life expectancy is anywhere between six months to a year.
She explained that when she was diagnosed, she and her husband Heath, were filled with many emotions, including shock, disbelief and anger.
“It is actually a profound experience that makes you a survivor not a victim. And in my mind, I’ve been a survivor from the minute I was diagnosed,” said Gignac.
Prior to the Meet the Press event, Gignac wrote her own story, telling readers her “Before and After” thoughts.
In her story she wrote, “by all accounts, I feel that there is much left for me on this planet. I am choosing to live as though I have a future. I know I cannot be fixed, but I choose to surround myself with sunshine, love and friendship.”