Only extraordinary circumstances would prompt us to make an appeal to you on behalf of a person like Luke Pohjolainen. Luke’s tendency would be to brush off his current situation as something that deserves no great fanfare or call for assistance. Those who know Luke well know that he would rather not create a fuss. But we do know Luke, and love him dearly. As such we feel it necessary to bring his story to you, esteemed colleagues, and simultaneously to appeal for your assistance.
In August 2016, Luke was diagnosed with a glioblastoma. This term may sound familiar to you as Gord Downey recently passed away following a similar diagnosis, while United States Senator John McCain was diagnosed with the same earlier this year. Luke’s illness is terminal and his time is limited.
It seems unintuitive to start by explaining this diagnosis, as this sad and unfair news is in no way representative of the Luke we know and love. The Luke we know is a coach, trainer and customer service advocate at work. On a personal level, he is a great lover of books, music, travel, fine food and the occasional adult beverage. Luke is above all a great and cherished friend, son and brother. In all of these capacities, Luke is loved.
Luke began dealing with his illness as anyone who knows him would expect – head on and with characteristic stubbornness. Unfortunately, the road he has had to travel since has not been smooth. In addition to brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Luke has also had to face extreme personal challenges.
Luke’s mother Mary Frances was also diagnosed with cancer in 2016. As if this was not enough, in May of 2017, while Luke and Mary Frances were both undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment, Luke’s father Rauli fell suddenly ill. He too was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within a matter of days.
Luke spent the summer of 2017 travelling between Toronto for cancer treatment and Thunder Bay to support his mother, all while grieving for his father. In late October, in the midst of another course of chemotherapy, Luke was forced to return to Thunder Bay to be with his Mother. On the morning of November first, Mary Frances lost her battle with cancer.
The reality of this is a lot to take in. Indeed, it is almost unthinkable. However, this is Luke’s reality and it has not altered the way he faces the world. It has not prompted him to complain or be angry at his lot in life.
We are not asking you to donate to the fight against this disease, but to this fight directly. We are asking you to donate to Luke, so that he can take the time to properly mourn the loss of his beloved parents. To focus his energy on his treatment and to make 2018 a better year than 2017.