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A hat trick of cancer spurs family to make a difference

Shawnda Muir, from left, son Justin, husband Darryl and son Devin

Darren Willems Photography

The Donor: Shawnda Muir

The Gift: Raising $269,000 and climbing

The Cause: CancerCare Manitoba

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When Shawnda Muir's husband, Darryl, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in February, 2007, the family thought they could cope. They soon found out their trials were just beginning.

Six weeks after her husband's diagnosis, Ms. Muir's father, Constant, was told he had an aggressive form of lymphoma. He died a few weeks later. Just as the family recovered from that loss, Ms. Muir found a lump in her breast and was told she had breast cancer.

"Nobody could believe it," Ms. Muir said from her home in Winnipeg. "I couldn't help but wonder why three cancer diagnoses in six months. What message from up above am I just not getting?"

As she started going through cancer treatment, Ms. Muir felt she needed to do something to stay positive. "I had a craving to do something just to get some good out of all this," she said. "I just thought, my gut tells me the timing is right now."

Together with friends and family, including teenage sons Justin and Devin, she organized Shoot for the Cure, a hockey and ringette event that raised $135,000 for CancerCare Manitoba in 2008. She didn't stop there.

Ms. Muir eventually quit her job and planned more fundraising events. So far she has raised $269,000 for CancerCare. She has also just written a book, called Cancer Scores a Hat Trick, and will donate $5 from each book sale to the Manitoba organization.

Her husband is now doing fine and Ms. Muir's breast cancer treatments have also gone well. But last spring she got more bad news. This time doctors diagnosed her with skin cancer. She has had minor surgery and is being monitored closely.

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"The most profound words of advice that I got from my doctor was; 'Live your life in such a way that should your cancer come back, you'll have no regrets,' " she said. "I am so peaceful now knowing that I made the changes in my life. I have no regrets."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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