Langley Township fire crews wear pink shirts during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support the wives of two of their members, who have been diagnosed with the disease. (Jhim Burwell/Township Fire Department)

‘Always keep fighting,’ breast cancer hits home for Langley Township firefighters

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Langley Township fire crews are supporting a new logo on their pink shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month after learning the disease hit close to home.

Two Township firefighters have wives who were diagnosed with the disease and members from all seven fire halls are joining the October awareness campaign by wearing pink T-shirts with the slogan “Always Keep Fighting.”

READ MORE: Langley breast cancer dragon boat team still battling in offseason

The T-shirts were designed by Township fire Capt. Morley Sagert and his wife, Sandra.

Sandra is currently facing breast cancer and the slogan is one she lives by as she continues her journey, according to Capt. Scott Brewer.

Meanwhile, it has been nearly three years since Karen McGuckin, and her firefighter husband, Richard, first heard her diagnosis of breast cancer.

Karen said her doctor encouraged her to start getting regular check-ups when she turned 40 years old.

“I was diagnosed – it was 2017 – and I went for my annual mammogram,” she said. “From there they called me back, and they said that they saw a difference in my breast, and I had to go for an ultrasound, and then that’s when they saw the cancer.”

The 51-year-old said she decided to get a lumpectomy because of the small size of the lump.

“At the time you just want to get rid of it,” she said. “You always think it could come back.”

After her successful surgery the family decided it was a good time to get away.

“I went to Disneyland to celebrate the surgery being over and [the] cancer out of me,” she said.

Although the cancer did not spread, Karen’s journey was far from over.

“That was a really good thing, I was very thankful for that,” she said, referring to the isolated lump. “But they [doctors] did suggest I go through chemo as well as radiation.”

After returning from her family vacation, Karen underwent six months of chemotherapy, and has been cancer free since.

“If I wouldn’t have gone to get it checked, I may not be here. I don’t know how fast it could have spread or what would have happened,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘It’s never too early’: B.C. women urged to speak to their doctors about breast cancer

Karen said her cancer mass was so small it didn’t turn up during a physical exam.

“The doctors couldn’t feel it either because it was so small, but that just shows you going in for a mammogram – they’ll find it.”

Karen doesn’t have a long history of breast cancer in her family, but recalls her aunt had battled the disease. Her diagnosis encouraged her friends to go get screened for breast cancer where one of her friends discovered she too had cancer.

“It’s very important to have the annual check,” she said. “Definitely if it runs in your family, go get screened.”

The experience showed Karen how much she has to live for.

“I am [thankful] for all my family and friends and all the support within the community, and the school – just everyone, the fire hall” she said. “It’s just amazing how everyone comes together.”

Before Karen’s diagnosis Richard admits he didn’t really think about breast cancer.

“My wife and I did the Run for the Cure on the weekend which I would never have done prior to that,” he said. “It affects so many people and to see the support from the public it was very much an eye-opener.”

The firefighter works out of the Aldergrove fire hall and is thankful for the crew who have put breast cancer in the spotlight with their pink shirts.

“Don’t get so busy in life that you can’t look after yourself,” he said.

BC Cancer Agency

• Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in British Columbia, according to BC Cancer Agency. In 2019 an estimated 3,890 women from the province will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

• Risk increases with age – the risk of breast cancer doubles between the ages of 45 and 65.

• A family history of breast cancer, particularly breast cancer in a mother, sister or daughter, increases a person’s risk.


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Langley Township fire crews wear pink shirts during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support the wives of two of their members, who have been diagnosed with the disease. (Jhim Burwell/Township Fire Department)

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