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A calendar worth your attention

Friday September 13, 2002

The Guelph Mercury

Sometimes unexpected blessings can flow from adversity. Sue Richards knows all about that.

The Guelph art educator and consultant, and the founder of Art Jam, is the moving spirit behind the Breast of Canada calendar, which saw its 2003 edition officially launched here Thursday.

When the project was initiated last year, expectations were high but the timing was off. Richards had to give away 16,000 copies of the calendars, which promote breast health and breast cancer detection, because delays in partnerships delayed sales beyond a marketable date.

Richards sustained a $35,000 financial loss, but those who received the 2002 calendar were so impressed by it, they've already ordered 2,600 of the 7,500 print run for the 2003 calendar. The calendars are available from local bookstores or from the Web site www.breastcanada.com for $19.95.

The Web site has been an important venue for the calendars, which feature monthly photos and instructions on breast self-examination and suggestions for exercises and nutrition to improve breast health.

It's an important initiative, since breast cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among Canadian women. The incidence rates for breast cancer have risen slowly and steadily in Canada -- about 1.5 per cent per year -- since 1981, with the incidence rate rising most rapidly among women aged 60 and over. The National Cancer Institute of Canada reports that one in nine women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Statistics for 1997 estimated the number of new cases in Canada that year at 18,400 and the number of deaths at 5,100.

Kristen Honey, one of the models who posed for the 2003 Breast of Canada calendar, expressed delight at being able to take part. "It's a fabulous project and (the calendar) is a conversation tool."

And a conversation tool not only in Canada, but also in the United States, various European nations, New Zealand, Australia and India, countries that received copies of the 2002 calendar.

Plans are underway for the 2004 calendar, where the theme will be creativity. Photographers across Canada are invited to submit black-and-white portraits for the calendar. The models must be anonymous and breasts must be photographed in a creative manner. Information on this, or on obtaining a calendar, is available at the above Web site.