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Paula Gallant continues in the Evangeline Mini-Relay for Life despite stage IV lung cancer

Paula Gallant stands in front of her pink breast cancer tree that represents hope at the Evangeline Mini-Relay held in the Evangeline Recreation Centre, Saturday.
Paula Gallant stands in front of her pink breast cancer tree that represents hope at the Evangeline Mini-Relay held in the Evangeline Recreation Centre, Saturday. - Desiree Anstey

Courage comes in many strides when fighting cancer

ABRAM-VILLAGE, P.E.I. —

Paula Gallant can’t change her diagnosis, but she fights it with treatment and a positive attitude.

“It all started with a rash, so I went to the doctor thinking I had shingles like my twin sister. When the doctor saw the rash, she looked concerned. 

“I had no symptoms of any illness, but the following day I went for a biopsy,” said Gallant who was at the Evangeline Mini-Relay held in the Evangeline Recreation Centre, Saturday evening.

It was shocking to hear the words “breast cancer” when the biopsy came back.

But Gallant decided she would spin a bad situation and spread hope, joy, and comfort to those in need.

“Every year I participate in this mini-relay because I want to give others hope. You have to have hope and courage when it comes to cancer. This is what my pink decorated tree represents,” she said, and motioned to her group perched around a glowing pink Christmas tree.

“Our group won first place last year for our decorations and money raised. We raised almost $2,000 last year for this worthy cause, and this year we hope to raise more.”

Last year, Gallant’s cancer spread to her lungs and was diagnosed at stage IV. 

“I went to Prince County Hospital in Summerside to have 16 rounds of radiation for treatment,” she said. “I have not had any surgery, instead I take pills to continue the treatment.”

Gallant is the type of person that sees a glass-half-full, even when she feels tired or short on breath. 

“The doctors said they can’t believe I’m still here, but I say they don’t want me up there yet,” she said grinned and gestured to the sky. 

Three years in a row Gallant has hosted a Christmas house tour with eight trees decorated in themes for each room.

“I told my husband I wanted to do something good for the community, so I decided to have a Christmas house tour.”

To continue spreading warmth and joy, Gallant fed eight families with food donations. 

“We filled eight large boxes with food, and then I went and purchased turkeys so they would have a nice Christmas meal.”

Gallant said there’s no time to feel sad, instead, she is filled with courage. 

She was not alone at the event when it comes to choosing to look at the bright side of life.  

Leonie Gallant, 83, was diagnosed with breast cancer 25 years ago. 

“We got together 12 years ago to participate in the first mini-relay and have been coming every year since. My grandfather passed away with cancer, and my grandmother, Leonie, had breast cancer years ago. She does the survivors walk with us, so we come to cheer her on and support others going through it,” said Nicole Gallant.

This year, 80 per cent of the funds collected from the event will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society of P.E.I. and 20 per cent will remain in the community. 

Food, beverages, and luminaires were sold at the Evangeline Recreation Centre for the 12th edition of the mini-relay while a bouncy castle was tucked in the back of the hall to keep kids engaged. 

The event ran from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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