Original article written in French by Céline Ducher and translated by Frédérique Rajotte.
Montreal, QC (Feb. 19, 2019) – Les Canadiennes de Montréal are planning the ninth edition of the Pink in the Rink on February 23rd at 6:30 pm as they are set to clash against the Markham Thunder, the defending Clarkson Cup Champions.
Besides the two points at stake, this game is significant for Les Canadiennes. For nine seasons, Les Canadiennes have organized this game to raise awareness for breast cancer, which affects 1 out of 8 women in Canada. In eight editions, Les Canadiennes have helped raise over $ 100 000 for breast cancer in Quebec, including $ 20 000 last season.
“I hope that every fundraising event helps demystify the struggle around this disease that could affect all of us; it’s not about self-pity but more about pushing the limits that are brought upon us,” mentions Carmen, a breast cancer survivor.
Carmen will be one of the flag barriers for the Pink in The Rink game and accompanied by her friend Isabelle, a fellow breast cancer survivor. Les Canadiennes will raise funds for the McGill University Health Center Breast Clinic through a silent auction, which will include many women’s hockey collectible items, such as the game-worn and signed pink jerseys.
“I’m very proud to be able to participate,” says Isabelle. “More spectators means more listening ears for the cause.”
Isabelle and Carmen have known each other for a few years and have played on the same recreational hockey team. Carmen started playing at age 45 while Isabelle laced up her skates at 37 years of age. Having both grown up in a period where women’s hockey was completely overshadowed by men’s hockey, participating at an earlier age did not present itself as an option.
“We didn’t have female role models. Female Olympians winning four gold medals at the Olympics or professional teams like Les Canadiennes didn’t exist, ” explains Isabelle. “It’s better to start playing later than never!”
Isabelle is still recovering and has not laced up her skates since her operation, but she hopes to make a comeback very soon.
“I had a lot of support from my team throughout this journey. Carmen, who went through the same battle as me and another friend, who is a specialized doctor, helped me tremendously during the first phase of uncertainty.”
For Carmen, returning to everyday life was a testament of “resilience, self-esteem and love of life, qualities that are essential to overcoming what life throws at us,” she says.
” A women’s locker room is usually filled with players who possess these qualities, regardless if they’ve had a cancer or not. At first, I was apprehensive of others reactions in the hockey and gym locker rooms but when I realized that no one was looking at me funny, I quickly regained my sense of comfort.”
Cancer is not an end in itself, but it’s important to get to know its existence, reminds Isabelle.
“I was very lucky with my cancer since they detected it early,” she says. “[I’d like to mention] the importance of breast self-examinations every month, taking action and consulting when we notice symptoms that seem out of the ordinary.”
The Breast Clinic is responsible in helping women during this difficult and emotional period. They treat more than 20 000 patients per year. Furthermore, the Breast Clinic’s Wellness Program offers a wide range of free services and support programs as part of the Breast Clinic’s holistic “Body, Mind and Spirit” philosophy which coincides with Les Canadiennes’ own core beliefs.
“ I found that the beauty of the locker room lies within the sense of equality. We can let loose and know that there won’t be any judgement. Only friendship, happiness and teamwork,” says Carmen.
The Pink In The Rink game will take place at Place Bell in Laval on the Rocket’s amphitheatre ice at 6:30pm. Free access to the game is granted to those who have purchased a Laval Rocket ticket or 15$ for fans who wish to attend Les Canadiennes’ game alone. Click here for tickets.