5 weeks of intense radiation therapy combined with 5 months of chemotherapy, themselves a “living hell”, increased my odds to 25%. Primary treatments concluded in January, 2014, and the outlook was good with clean scans as of April. The recent return of pain and weight loss led to subsequent scans showing the cancer had not only returned, but was aggressively attacking other areas.
The diagnosis was now “terminal” - 6 to 12 months survival - and the treatment options offered under Ontario health care coverage were only palliative care.
I am a former athlete, mainly basketball. In my senior year at Timmins High, I was the point guard on the Ontario provincial championship team. I later played at the University of New Brunswick, Cambrian College, and Laurentian University where I am proud to now be an assistant coach with the men’s varsity team.
My professional career as a firefighter began while I was a student at Laurentian, I was hired as a seasonal fire crew member. Over the next 15 years, I moved progressively through the ranks - Crew Leader, Training Facilitator and Fire Investigator, and finally a Level 2 Incident Commander. In 2012, I proudly accepted the position of Fire Instructor at the Ontario Fire College. As the youngest of six Instructors across the province, my passion and career aspirations finally positioned me to help as many people as possible by directly affecting thousands of First Responders across the province.
I have become an “unwilling expert” regarding my cancer treatment. First Responders suffer significantly higher rates of this disease than the general public. Firefighters, in particular, are afflicted with a much higher rate of esophageal cancer. I have also been encouraged to learn that highly creditable physicians in Canada and the United States have developed alternative homeopathic and naturopathic regimens that have enhanced the length and quality of life of some cancer victims. Unfortunately, these treatments are expensive (first round of treatment is estimated at $40-50,000) and are not covered by Provincial or employer health insurance.
The dilemma - a choice between focusing only on my own life/death situation and my family’s financial future. I am the proudest father of four, and husband to a beautiful and compassionate wife whose strength has sustained me through the past year. My image of myself is as a father, firefighter,and former basketball player - in that order. My kids, ranging in age from 5 - 13, are active in sports. At various times their life ambitions include becoming engineers, teachers, nurses, firefighters, Olympians, cowboys and dump truck driver's. As a family, we do many things together: swimming, biking, skating, skiing - all things I want to continue doing with them as long as my strength allows. Any contributions made to my cause will be used to maintain that life and strength for that purpose, for me, my family and friends.
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