Bif Naked at Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation fundraiser tells audience of 500 that surviving cancer was brutally difficult
Bif Naked won't lie to you about breast cancer. The 38-year-old Vancouver pop-punk musician and poet was the keynote speaker at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Awareness Day banquet on Thursday.
"I won't lie" was the refrain of her address, which detailed her own fight with breast cancer since being diagnosed in 2008. It tempered themes of empowered survival with the frank admission that even for a tough-as-nails punk rocker, breast cancer was, she won't lie, brutally difficult and a terrifying brush with mortality.
This dual message of hope and realism was present throughout the event, a $125 per person fundraiser that attracted an audience of about 500 to space donated by the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. It marked the first time the event has been held in the spring; in years previous it took place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Another speaker, Dr. Paula Gordon, chairs the 2020 Early Detection Working Group, which focuses on catching breast cancer as soon as possible in the Foundation's overarching goal of eliminating it entirely by the year 2020.
Gordon said she believes that goal to be attainable. But she cautioned women not to allow advances in medical technology to lull them into a false sense of security and miss screenings.
"Unless you have a crystal ball," she said, laughing, "I don't have a crystal ball."
She also alluded to a controversial guideline change by the United States Department of Health and Human Services last November, which raised the age at which it recommends regular mammography from 40 to 50 and discouraged self-examination.
Although Health Canada also recommends regular (biennial) mammograms only for women 50 and above, Gordon said that women should have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.
Naked, a non-smoking non-drinking vegan, was 36 when she was diagnosed. She said she discovered a "pea-sized" lump in her breast in the first self-examination she ever performed, just weeks after her marriage to Vancouver Sun sports journalist Ian Walker.
Her most recent album, "The Promise", was recorded while she was undergoing treatment.