Canadian Underwriter

WICC’s 25th: From One Shoulder to Another — Getting to Know Denise MacKinnon

August 5, 2021   by Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)

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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. There are four stories in all. 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.


Denise MacKinnon, Project Manager, Insurance Bureau of Canada

In May 2015, Denise MacKinnon was diagnosed with Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), more commonly known as breast cancer. At first, she was shocked but not surprised as both her mother and aunt had breast cancer, and she knew that 1 in 8 women are estimated to develop breast cancer during their lifetime.

Since there was a history of breast cancer in her family, Denise chose to have a full double mastectomy – a decision she says was the best course of action as there were abnormal cells already showing in the second breast. Denise was fortunate in that she did not require any treatment as the cancer was discovered in the early stages, while the double mastectomy also offered more protection.

During this time, Denise was able to turn to a fellow co-worker who was a double survivor of breast cancer. Her sister-in-law and husband were also great resources for any questions and concerns that she had, and always lent a shoulder. “Talking about it makes it so much easier to live with. Especially with others that have gone through this journey. I feel like I’m not alone,” Denise says.

After dealing with her mother going through several cancer diagnoses, Denise wanted to do something to help in a way she thought she could. Since then, WICC has been a part of her life. “My first WICC event was a golf tournament more than 15 years ago. I have also participated in Relay for Life for over 10 years. WICC has shown me that others with and without a cancer diagnosis care, and are willing to do something to make the lives of others better. WICC is something that I do because I care about cancer and those that are living with it.”

Her favourite WICC event? The annual golf tournament (pre-COVID-19) and Relay for Life.

“The golf tournament is a day when I can forget my diagnosis and just enjoy the sport I love. Relay is a great event as it allows us to celebrate those that are still fighting or have won their fight, and to reflect and remember those that fought hard and are no longer with us.”

Denise would counsel any adult facing cancer or another life-threatening illness with the advice that, “You are not alone. Get as much information as you can so you can fully understand your situation,  and reach out to others that are going through or have been on the same journey.”


Denise MacKinnon is a Project Manager for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. She has been a supporter of WICC for more than 10 years and an active attendee of the WICC Golf Tournament and Relay.

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