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Belinda Stronach will host a fundraising event called Live To Tell in support of a new, world-leading breast cancer centre at Canada’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Singer Sheryl Crow, a breast cancer survivor like Stronach, will perform at the event on May 8.

Sunnybrook’s breast centre project will be the biggest in Canada and will supply “leading edge innovations backed by the latest research breakthroughs.”

In a CBC radio interview to promote the event, Stronach talked about her experience battling breast cancer and, in making her private life public, hopes to water down some unhelpful taboos and strengthen the resolve of other women to do what’s best for themselves.

“All of a sudden you’re told you have breast cancer,” says Stronach. “You don’t really know where it’s going to go at the end of the day. … Cancer is this broad term that’s used for a whole number of different diseases. Obviously mortality is the first concern. You have to investigate all your options and then make a good gut decision that you’re comfortable with. You’ll run into doctors that have many different opinions and you have to argue with them and push for what you feel comfortable with.”

But there is more to life after beating cancer. “Once I had done that in terms of getting a mastectomy, the next part for me was, ‘Well how can you make the breast look as normal as possible?’ Obviously having a nipple was something important for me that could make me feel at least that I looked as normal as possible. It matters a lot,” says Stronach. “Anyone that says this is purely cosmetic, I could have a pretty good argument with. This is about getting back to a normal daily routine and feeling good about your body.”

At Live To Tell, Crow also plans to speak out about her experience with breast cancer. “It’s what you do with experience that really defines who you become,” she says.

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