‘(Cancer) chooses who it wants:’ multiple diagnoses prompt woman to get involved

Chantal Smith, who is battling breast cancer, volunteered at Jail-N-Bail on October 18, 2018. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Chantal Smith stood beside those ‘arrested’ at Prince Albert’s Jail-N-Bail on Thursday, but she wasn’t a prisoner.

She was a volunteer living with Stage 4 breast cancer and helping to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Jail-N-Bail is a fundraising event at the Gateway Mall, where people get others ‘arrested.’ The jailbird can only be released once they raise their bail amount set by the judge.

Prince Albert Daily Herald publisher Donna Pfeil was one of the jailbirds ‘arrested’ Thursday. She surpassed her $399 goal set by one of the celebrity judges, Chris Knight, and was released by one of the afternoon judges, Herald editor Peter Lozinski. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Smith’s journey with cancer started in 2013 when she was 23-years-old.

“I was leaking blood and there (were) no lumps yet,” she said.

Doctors did reconstruction surgery after six months, taking tissue from her stomach. The procedure took nine hours.

After six rounds of chemotherapy, Smith went back to her job as an educational assistant.

Then, in September 2016, she faced her second diagnosis.

“I had a spot underneath my reconstruction that they needed to scrape off. We did that, I had surgery, and then we went and did radiation,” she said, explaining how she used Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) to go back and forth between Saskatoon and Prince Albert for 30 treatments.

She got the news of her third diagnosis last month.

“We’re hoping it’s the same cancer as what I had the first and second time and we can deal with it, but otherwise it’s just maddening to have it for a third time and keep battling,” said Smith.

Now at 28-years-old, she has many plans for the future.

“My son needs his mom and he’s eight-years-old and I need grandchildren and to see him graduate, get married,” she said, along with buying her first home with her husband.

“We need breast cancer awareness and women need to check more frequently. I feel that once a year mammogram, it’s alright, but there’s younger girls, younger mothers, like me…that their stories need to be heard,” she said. “It can happen to anyone. (Cancer) chooses who it wants.”

Smith added she’s hopeful because cancer victims are living longer thanks to advancing technology.

Not only is she volunteering for events like Jail-N-Bail, she’s working with the Canadian Cancer Society to start a women’s support group for breast cancer and speaking with other survivors around Canada over the phone.

“You can do it all online and it’s confidential,” she noted.

With her involvement, she wants to spread her positive outlook to trump a dark topic: “To fear cancer is definitely not an option for me.”

This year’s Jail-N-Bail raised a total of $9682.05 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Manager of Sports, Culture and Recreation for the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), Geoff Despins, raised the most out of all jailbirds with $2610. His bail was set for $200.