I'm sure we can all say that 2020 was a life-altering year for everyone on earth. And for my partner Shaun de Jager, that year was a gutpunch of highs and lows. From our serendipitous meeting in January to our excitement at the thought of spending a couple of weeks of lockdown together in March (ha!), what was in store come April 2020 would change Shaun's life, and mine, forever.
After complaining for a few weeks about mouth and tongue pain, Shaun finally decided to get it checked out. Unfortunately at that time all doctor offices were closed, and by persisting with a virtual consultation, the head and neck specialist who answered Shaun's call was very concerned with what he saw, and decided to open his office just to see Shaun in person. From that visit Shaun was diagnosed with oral cancer from an aggressive tumour on his tongue.
Since he had a very serious situation, the specialists at Princess Margaret Hospital placed him at the top of the list for surgeries and finally in June 2020, Shaun had surgery to remove the tumor. This resulted in removal of over 80% of his tongue, all lymph nodes, and a rebuilding of the arteries in his neck. With this, his speech was severely altered, and he needed therapy to get his muscles moving again. For someone who depended on his voice for his work as an instructor, and public speaker on road safety, nothing would ever be the same again. A few weeks after surgery, since there was no time to waste, Shaun started his first of 22 sessions of radiation therapy along with rounds of chemotherapy.
From fighting for his life, to losing his job because of illness and lockdown, I have been in awe of his resilience and determination to fight and to thrive. And because of this, I'm asking for your help in making Shaun's dream of a cross-country trip to all three Canadian Coasts in his beloved van, which he's nicknamed Moose, a reality. This was a promise he made to himself that if he survived the ordeal he would head out on an adventure of a lifetime.
Please help me help Shaun get out on the road again and make a dream come true!
Organizer and beneficiary
Shaun De Jager