CHEK Upside: Victoria woman’s Valentine’s Day chocolates raise thousands for ovarian cancer research

CHEK Upside: Victoria woman's Valentine's Day chocolates raise thousands for ovarian cancer research
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For Jennifer Smyth, the steps of carefully coating her chocolate truffles and finishing them off with a pinch of lavender have become a yearly tradition as she raised money for ovarian cancer research.

“For Valentine’s Day, I’m doing Lavender and Chocolate Truffles,” said the 73-year-old Smyth.

She’s already sold out of this year’s batch, but Smyth isn’t collecting a profit. The retired TV producer is an ovarian cancer survivor, baking to give back.

“I want to give hope to a lot of women,” said Smyth. “I consider myself very lucky that I’m still here because I’m one of the very few that have reached twenty years [cancer free], so as a result, the big goal for our team this year will be $20,000.”

Her team is made up of dedicated pole walkers with a purpose who refer to themselves as the ‘Pole Cats’. Over the past seven years, Smyth and her team have raised not only awareness but more than $50,000 towards ovarian cancer research.

“Every year in Canada, we have about 2,800 women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. About 1,700 of those women will die,” said Smyth, who was diagnosed at 53-years-old.

Don Helliwell, an original ‘Pole Cats’ member, said Smyth has a knack for raising funds.

“She’s an amazing person when it comes to fundraising,” said Helliwell. “She can take a small donation and just turn it around and turn it into a huge donation.”

What started as a few hundred dollars in donations has evolved into a series of fundraising events. From ‘walks of hope’ to pop-up markets, Smyth has demonstrated a sincere commitment to fighting for a cure.

“I want to make sure that my nieces don’t get ovarian cancer, and if they do, it gets detected early and they have fulfilled, you know, good lives,” said Smyth.

The 73-year-old says she’ll be back to baking her truffles for Mother’s Day, as her journey to give back is far from over.

“Well as long as I’m able to, I will continue doing it,” said the fundraising cancer survivor.

For more information on the ‘Pole Cats’ and how to donate, you can email Jennifer Smyth at [email protected]

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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