Alberta Cancer Foundation

A marathon of cancer fundraising

Emily Cinats (centre) and her Bust-a-Move Team comprised of University of Alberta MBA students. Photo Trevor Boller

It’s hard to keep up with Emily Cinats. Over the past 10 years, she’s taken giant strides to support cancer research in Alberta. Whether she’s running, swimming or walking, Cinats is always ready to push herself to the limits for a cause she holds close to her heart.

Cinats was only 17 years old when her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2004. Motivated to make a difference, she and her parents, Dr. John and Cindy Cinats, came up with the idea to create a Breast Impression Calendar to raise funds and awareness for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “A group of breast cancer survivors participated in the calendar,” says Cinats. “We painted images on their breasts, imprinted them onto canvases and created a beautiful calendar.”

For four years, Cinats and her parents involved more than 50 breast cancer survivors in the annual creation of the calendar. Sales of the calendars raised over $80,000 for the Foundation, and Cinats credits early exposure to fundraising for inspiring her to join the Alberta Cancer Foundation sponsorship committee, volunteering her time to help plan other fundraising events.

From 2006 to 2013, she participated in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer, a gruelling two-day, 60-kilometre walk that she completed alongside her mother. It wasn’t just a walk in the park, says Cinats, who recalls her sore, blistered feet. It was the camaraderie of walking with her mother and aunt that kept her going. “Family and friends would meet us at the checkpoints along the way. My dad walked in a bright pink tutu for a portion of the walk one year. Despite the difficulty, it was a lot of fun.”

In 2012, Cinats’ mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And while she will never forget the fear and pain she felt that day, she also warmly recalls the empathy and compassion she received from fellow volunteers at the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “It’s more than a fundraising committee,” Cinats says. “It’s a loving community of people who understand what you’re going through.”

Today, her mother and aunt are breast cancer survivors, but she hasn’t given up her fundraising commitment. In 2015, she and her father entered the 1st Annual Allan Beach Triathlon as a team. Cinats dove into the swimming portion, while her dad ran and biked. She says every length of the pool, every lap and step, have been worth it to see the impact her fundraising has made at the Cross Cancer Institute.

“When you’re at the Cross Cancer Institute and you have a family member receiving treatment, you really see and feel the tangible benefit of fundraising and volunteering,” says Cinats.

After 10 years of being involved in fundraising and advocacy for cancer research, she has no plans of giving up. If there’s anything Cinats has learned, it’s that the race to develop new treatments and find a cure is a marathon, not a sprint.