Just about everyone out there has had cancer touch their lives in one way or another. That’s just an unfortunate reality. Another reality is that cancer has always been seen as something to fight, to battle. A defensive position, it inevitably means that cancer has to happen first for most people to take action. But what if people started thinking less about combatting cancer, and more about preventing it?
That’s exactly what Lindsay Pullen, founder of the #preventEVENT is trying to do.
A born and raised Torontonian, Lindsay spent some time living and working in London, England, before returning to Toronto to pursue a career in fashion retail. Her passion for fashion and her industry experience landed her the role of Director of Merchandising at Canada Goose. Lindsay’s other passions include travel, fitness (she’s an avid cyclist and runner), and leading a healthy lifestyle. And now, the latest goal on this accomplished woman’s list is spreading awareness of cancer prevention.
Tragically, Lindsay lost both of her parents to cancer. Her goal with #preventEVENT is right in the name: to raise awareness about cancer prevention, and moving people away from the more prevalent and defensive mentality. All proceeds from #preventEVENT will benefit the Hills of Erin Cancer Prevention Foundation for Prevent Cancer Now.
#preventEvent takes place on 21st of April at 2nd Floor Event, 461 King Street West. Toronto. Tickets can be purchased here. And learn what inspires Lindsay to do this amazing work below.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to become many things…a dancer, a celebrity, a teacher, but I think mostly I really wanted to be a reporter – I remember practicing in front of a camera ‘interviewing’ with my stuffed animals. Later in life I wanted to become a high powered lawyer because the thought of being a female holding power was really appealing to me (still is today, I just didn’t end up going into Law!). Common thread throughout my childhood though was I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to be successful – my father taught me at a very young age, the importance of being independent, especially as a woman, and this has stuck with me in a big way. Independence allows us to really be who we truly are and want to be. Remaining true to yourself is the biggest success anyone can have….in my opinion anyway.
What are the biggest challenges/setbacks you’ve had to face?
I lost my mother to Breast Cancer when I was 15. At that time, Cancer wasn’t as widely known or talked about so it was difficult for me to understand (let alone understand the feeling of such a loss at that age) and even more difficult was watching her suffer for 5 years. It was a challenge to let go of this sadness and loss for the longest time…I struggled with it into my late twenties. I was very lucky though to have had a mother that was so strong – even through the most painful times, I don’t remember her not having a smile on her face. She was the type of person that could light up any room, her presence is definitely still missed in a significant way.
Another challenge – that I am proud of – would have to be running my first marathon a few years ago. This was both physically AND mentally challenging…I will never forget the thoughts that ran through my mind throughout the duration of the race, talking myself into getting to that finish mark was a real test but all I wanted to do was make my father proud and finish for my mom since I’m sure she endured much more pain than I did! I chose to run this marathon in Croatia so the upside of all the pain was the beautiful surroundings that I experienced for the duration of the race – WOW!
The next marathon that I will be running will be in May in Sierra Leone, Africa. Not only will the run itself be an amazing experience, but I get to help raise funds for Street Child which is an organization out of the UK with a focus to help children in West Africa in need of better homes and education. Immersing myself into these childrens lives will be life changing I am sure – we should always look for ways to challenge ourselves and remind ourselves how lucky we are.
What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
Easy – NEVER give up and NEVER let anyone make you believe you are worth anything less than you really are. Work hard, give back and NEVER lose perspective on what is TRULY important in life.
Who (person or organization) inspires you?
Without question, this would be my father. Last July, sadly, I lost him to Pancreatic Cancer – this is one of the most painful and severe cancers of them all with the absolutely lowest survival rate. He was with us for a year after being diagnosed (surprisingly) and I watched him go from being a physically strong man to one with a scarily skeletal frame. Throughout this time of severe pain, he never asked for help, was disgusted by the thought of someone having pity on him and was more concerned about the well being of his children than his own struggle (this was not unusual for him though). After he passed away, I went to his old place of work and was chatting with a client of my fathers who was unaware of his passing. My father had being dealing with this gentleman for well over 10 years. He was extremely saddened to hear of the news and proceeded to tell me how when he went through some tough times years ago, my father was the only one that stuck his neck out to help him out – this changed his life. I was completely humbled by this but definitely not surprised. My father went out of his way to help people, never asking for or expecting anything in return. The smartest, kindest, most genuine and generous person – I will forever be thankful to have such a person, parent, best friend, and mentor in my life for as long as I did…most people are not as lucky as I in this respect. He taught me A LOT and I attribute much of who I have become today, to him. He taught me to be kind, strong, & independent…quick to remind me who I was if I ever doubted myself and never let me give up!
In general, I am inspired by everyone I have in my life. Who I surround myself with is very important to me – every day we have the chance to be a better person and the people you have with you along the for ride of life are the ones that are going to push you to do just that.
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
preventcancernow.ca – Hills of Erin Cancer Prevention Foundation for Prevent Cancer Now
I’ve lost too many people that I love dearly to cancer and I don’t want to lose anyone else. Learning on how we, as individuals, can prevent cancer before it starts should be a part of our daily lives. I believe that we are too focused on cures and treatment – we should be learning and thinking about how NOT to get cancer in the first place! Getting the awareness out there about how : what we put in and on our bodies, poor mental & physical health and the kind of environment we put ourselves in on a daily basis can fuel cancer growth should be top of mind for us to learn and avoid. Similarly, the education on food and products that we should eat and use that actually stave off cancer and in some instances can actually reverse cancer growth needs to be more widely dispersed. Lets be proactive and preventative with regards to this horrible disease that is now the leading cause of death in Canada – 30% of deaths are attributed to cancer. In 2016 alone, it was estimated that over 200,000 NEW cancer cases would be found and almost 80,000 deaths due to cancer. That’s approximately 555 people each day that will be diagnosed and 216 that will die – We NEED to start doing something about this and getting the awareness out there to drive these numbers down!
Want to do your part? Go to #preventEVENT! Get your tickets here. See you there!