October 28, 2021 by Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)
Editor’s Note: In honour and celebration of Women and Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)’s 25th anniversary, Canadian Underwriter will be publishing each Friday a personal story of someone who has been touched by WICC’s fundraising activities in support of cancer care and research. In this second part of the series, there will be five stories, starting with the personal story of Carrie Brown. Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry has strongly supported WICC, which has set a goal of contributing a total of $25 million to cancer care and research by 2025.
Carrie Brown remembers the day she learned what cancer was. “I was seven years old. I was looking through old photos of my mom with her parents when I learned that they had both passed away from cancer when my mom was quite young.” The realization that Carrie’s mother had lost her own mother when she was 13, and her father at 23, was devastating. As a child, your parents are your whole world. The thought that her mother lost both her parents at such a young age was hard to absorb.
This experience inspired Carrie to get involved with an organization dedicated to helping individuals dealing with cancer. She originally joined the WICC Relay event in 2011 when an event was being captained by one of her colleagues. In 2015, Carrie joined the WICC Communications Committee focusing on event promotion. “My work is grassroots; I spend time reaching out to past relay captains, connecting with new captains, sharing stories, creating leaderboards (we’re all competitive in the insurance industry!) and creating meaningful conversations with any individuals involved.”
In her seventh year with WICC, Carrie’s not slowing down. “That sense of community within WICC, it’s inspiring. It makes you come back and choose to support in this way.” Her favourite event is, of course, Relay for Life. “These events are so meaningful. People who have experienced cancer come from all over. The minute of silence as we walk around the track, we all feel together. There’s grief, but there’s optimism too. We’re all working towards a positive future.”
Looking back now, Carrie wonders if her grandparents had access to the resources and research on cancer that is now available, if they would have had a different outcome. She says that one of the best things about working with WICC is seeing the impact of her efforts. “There are real people at the end of the work that we’re doing,” she adds. Carrie saw this firsthand when family members shared their stories.
Later in life, Carrie’s uncle was diagnosed with breast cancer. He was diagnosed and treated, but his daughter, Carrie’s cousin, later discovered that she was likely to experience cancer as well when she tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. She underwent preventative surgery to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, which reduced her risk from 70% to 30%. She is currently waiting for a mastectomy that will take her risk to below that of someone without the gene.
When asked if she had any final statements about her time volunteering with WICC, Carrie offered, “As an industry, the power that we have is incredible. The insurance community is bigger than cancer. I encourage everyone to join in and make a difference.”
Carrie joined WICC in 2011 and currently serves as Director, Commercial Lines, Operational Performance at Intact Insurance in Toronto, Ontario.