When Dawn Durant first took part in the CIBC Run for the Cure last year, she was accompanied by her oldest daughter, Danielle.
But this time around, Dani – as she was best known – wasn’t there.
That’s because she lost her battle to cancer this spring, and 16 of her coworkers, friends, and family took part in this year’s regional walk/run in Surrey.
They did it in Dani’s memory.
The Langley group made up Dani’s Team Tumornators and they were one of the top fundraisers in the Surrey event earlier this month, raising $8,271 for the cause.
Danielle, a London Drugs pharmacist who lived in Willoughby, was 28 when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in mid-April 2015.
She began chemotherapy the first week of May 2015, going every second Friday for four treatments and then every Friday for 12 treatments, recounted her mother.
She had a month off from chemo, then began radiation every day for 25 treatments – Monday to Friday. This took her into November 2015.
Early in January 2016 she had a single mastectomy. Hoping to have children one day, she wanted to leave one natural breast, Mom explained.
When the pathology report came back, she was informed that her treatment had been successful and no cancer was found in the breast tissue that was removed.
The following months were spent trying to expand her breast for reconstruction, as the radiated skin does not stretch well, Dawn recounted. Reconstruction surgery was scheduled for December 2016.
In October of 2016, the Langley Secondary school grad began to “not feel well again.”
She was having bad head pain and balance issues, Mom recalled.
A CT scan was ordered for December – prior to her reconstruction and she was informed that she had a “very large tumor” in her brain. She was ordered to go to emergency right away.
Two days later the large tumor was removed and, as Dawn recalled, Danielle received “extreme” relief.
“To follow were the best three weeks of her journey, she felt amazing,” Mom said.
Reconstruction was postponed from December – due to her emergency surgery – to late January 2017.
“At this time, she was able to have an MRI as the tissue expander was removed and we found out that Danielle had five more tumors, and that the cancer had also spread to her brain fluid.”
In February of this year, Danielle began total brain radiation for 10 treatments to try and shrink the tumors and extend her life to try a fit in a family trip.
“Unfortunately, the cancer took over fairly quickly,” Mom recounted. Danielle passed on April 15, during the Easter weekend, at the age of 30.
Keeping her memory alive
Last year, Dani walked with the Turmornators for her friend Sangita, this year’s team captain.
Sangita is a breast cancer survivor who befriended Dani during her cancer battle.
London Drugs had brought the two women together so that Sangita could support Danielle. The pair remained friends throughout Dani’s journey.
And while Sangita and Dawn helped head up the expanded Turmornators team this year, Mom explained that more is being done to keep Dani’s memory alive.
She graduated as a pharmacist from the University of B.C. in 2012, and when her grad class heard of Dani’s passing, they started a GoFundMe page to create a UBC bursary in her honour.
They raised $5,400.