Janaya Stevenson and her sons


Janaya Stevenson started running six years ago as a way to lose weight. A year later, she was taking part in running events.

Janaya, 32, ran her first 5K race in August 2007. She completed her first 10K run the following month and finished her first half-marathon three months later.

This year, the Warman resident is lacing up her running shoes to take part in 12 half-marathons while raising money for cancer research through the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fundraise for Life program.

Janaya, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 3, has run one half-marathon a month since January. She will complete her “12 in 2012” project by the end of December.

A family affected by cancer

Janaya grew up knowing about cancer. Her mother worked at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina for most of her nursing career. There is a history of cancer in Janaya’s family and in her husband’s family.

Janaya’s mother’s mother, grandmother and an aunt had breast cancer. Her mother’s sister died of breast cancer when she was 40.

“Now, as a mom, the thought of leaving my boys early is terrifying,” Janaya says.

She would like her boys to live their lives without fearing cancer, or without fearing that they will pass it on to their children.

Janaya’s close friend Heather had been fighting a brain tumour for 5 years when she was told she had terminal cancer, in November 2011. Heather died on January 8. She was 31.Janaya Stevenson

There were no treatment options available to Heather, Janaya says. Seeing first-hand the effects cancer had on her friend made Janaya feel helpless.

“The thing is, although Heather was a unique and special person (and in fact her cancer was a very rare type), stories like hers are not all that uncommon,” Janaya says. “The prevalence of cancer and its devastating effects are what made the decision to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society easy.”

Janaya would like to see the money she raises support cancer research that will help others in the future.

Inspiring others to meet their goals

As part of her “12 in 2012” project, Janaya is blogging about her year of half-marathons. She is hoping to inspire people who feel the way she felt before she started running, before the weight loss.

“If I can do it, anyone can,” says Janaya, who took up running after the birth of her first son. She weighed more than 220 pounds then, led a sedentary lifestyle and was unhappy with her appearance.

Running helped Janaya lose weight and become healthy, fit and happy, giving her a new lease on life.

Seven races completed, five more to go

Janaya ran ran her first half-marathon of 2012 six days after Heather died. Around her neck Janaya wore something of Heather’s: the necklace she gave Heather when Heather was Janaya’s maid of honour. Janaya wears the gold chain with the letter H charm during every half-marathon.

While Janaya enjoys the challenges half-marathons present, if she were not raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society, if she were not writing her blog, she would have stopped taking part in so many races in one year.

“It’s more of an undertaking than I anticipated,” Janaya says. “There’s always something to give you a reason to bail.”

Janaya's runnng has improved.

“I’m doing better than I thought," she says. "I’m running well. I feel strong. My times are getting better."

Thrilled with donations received

When Janaya decided to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society, she had no expectations and no goal in mind. She would have been happy with whatever amount she collected.

“I didn’t anticipate the response that I’ve received,” Janaya says.

She received her first donation on January 1, her birthday. The $100 was from her brother. Heather’s father provided the second donation.

So far, Janaya has raised almost $5,000. She is grateful to everyone who has given.

“Without the support and generosity of my friends, family and community, I’m just a mom who likes to run.”

Fundraise for Life: Hold your own event in support of the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Fundraise for Life program gives you an easy way to join the fight for life and hold your own fundraising event in support of the Society’s work.

Holding your own event is easier than you think - get creative and let your imagination take over.

Fundraise for Life gives you the tools and resources to hold a safe, enjoyable and successful event while following the Canadian Cancer Society guidelines.

When you hold your own event you can:

  • have your event your way
  • connect with the community
  • share your story
  • fight back against cancer

Find out more.



Published Monday, July 23, 2012

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