1 Down 29 to Go

Today my Dad started his Radiation treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute. I was so thankful that I was able to spend the day with him.

First up was a group information “Radiation Class” as I called it. We gathered in a private room to learn all there is to know about the process of undergoing Radiation treatments (complete with a slide show).  She was very thorough and informative.

After “class” we grabbed a bite to eat in the cafeteria and wouldn’t you know it, we bumped into a Couple who are Dad’s neighbours and they joined us for lunch.  Dad and Mr. W. (I will call him) traded prostate cancer war stories, and I chatted with Mrs. W. who I recognized from my days growing up in Vermilion. As I talked she scanned my face for a bit, and then said “You must have lost a lot of weight, I can notice a huge difference in your face.” Mr. W. interjected with “I remember you back when you were a brat!” I burst out laughing, cause you can’t argue with the truth, yup I was a brat! ha ha 😉

We wandered down the halls, and into a coffee shop to waste some time before Dad’s first Radiation appointment.

Along our walk we appreciated the artwork displayed  in the hallways, drawn by cancer patients.

These art pieces in particular really caught my eye…

I instantly thought of my dear friend Hope Walls when I saw this one…

We talked and waited.  There’s a lot of waiting involved during the process of treatment.

I realized as we sat and waited, there are very few times that I’m able to visit with my Dad alone, face-to-face.  We are a large family, and we travel in groups. I loved spending that time with him…just the two of us. He told me he bought a mini-van to conserve on gas so he could travel the 4 hour round-trip to and from Vermilion for his daily treatments.  That is for now anyway, as he has cattle to feed.

His appointment was drawing near, so we took the escalator down a level.  As we travelled down on the escalator, this painting slowly panned down out of sight, first the field, then the fluffy clouds, and finally the vibrant blue sky.

We arrived at the third waiting room of the day.

There was another gentleman waiting.  My Dad loves to visit, so they struck up conversation before Dad even sat down.  Dad explained that this was his first of 30 sessions, to which the gentleman commented “Ahhhh, you’re a newbie”. Dad smiled and replied “Tomorrow I won’t be.”

We waited, chatted, and waited some more until finally Dad was taken into the room marked with a Radiation placard on the door.

As I sat in the waiting room, two more gentlemen joined me. They had gotten to know one another through the course of their treatment. “How are you? Are they backed up today?”

I felt out-of-place, like I didn’t have a right to sit among these brave men. I was just the family member of a cancer patient.  I looked down and fiddled with my chipped nails. When I looked up, I met the kind eyes of a stranger…a gentleman who through the course of our chat, described to me how they discovered his cancer, and his agonizing course of treatment to date: surgery, skin grafts, medication, and now Radiation.  I sympathized with him, he smiled and warmly said “What’s a person to do? You just have to deal with it and make the most of it.”

Twenty minutes later, my Dad walked out of the room.  He stopped at the waiting room, waved, and said “1 down, 29 to go”.

At the end of the day, my cell buzzed in my pocket as I received an e-mail informing me that my friend Carmen had just made a generous donation to our Team for the Leduc Relay for Life. With her donation I reached my $4,000 fundraising goal (thank you!!!!!)

I took this time to tell Dad about every person who donated towards my pledge page (it took awhile too, because I had to tell him who everyone’s parents are if they are from the Vermilion area).  He was blown away by your support and generosity.  He just shook his head in amazement and smiled bigger than he had all day.  Thank you for your continued prayers, love and support.

There’s still a few days before the Relay on June 3rd. To date, Team Hope has raised $11,020!!!  Today, more than any other day, I realized how important it is to continue to fundraise in order to make  cancer history.

Click HERE to Pledge your Support. Every donation no matter how big or small makes a difference.

My Dad spent his day encouraging others who share a common bond. People just like him who walk through the doors of the Cross Cancer Institute to wage war against cancer in their own private fight.

As my Dad left the waiting room he will sit in for the next 6 weeks, he waved at those still there, and along with his customary Ralph grin he said “See you tomorrow!”

From my heart to yours,

Chrissy (as my Dad calls me)

I Believe

I believe we can make a difference in this world.

I believe we are here for a great purpose.

I believe in the power in numbers. Together we can join up to fight to make a huge impact.

I believe it’s our obligation to be informed, even though many times in life I wish I could just stick my head in the sand and pretend life’s harsh realities aren’t in fact realities.

We miss you so much Aunty Lorraine
My Dad: Waiting Room of the Cross Cancer Institute

I have talked quite a lot about the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. So much so that I’m sure many are sick of hearing about it! 😉  One thing I’ve learned since my father’s diagnosis is that we are uncomfortable discussing cancer.

But the reality is this.  YOU WILL BE AFFECTED BY CANCER AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE. Either because your loved one has been diagnosed, or because you have been diagnosed.  Yes, I believe we need to discuss it my friends because there is Hope.

I believe we need to do something, anything to join the fight to make cancer history…because the alternative is to do nothing.

I’m not sure if I’ve adequately explained why I Relay for Life.  Has the Canadian Cancer Society made any progress?   Yes, they’ve made HUGE progress with every year that passes.  The Relay for Life is the main fundraising event for the Canadian Cancer Society, and it’s what keeps the research going. To one day find a CURE.

Copyright: Canadian Cancer Society, Leduc Relay for Life 2010
Copyright: Canadian Cancer Society, Leduc Relay for Life 2010

The facts: cancer cure rates 

1940: 25% of individuals diagnosed with cancer survived it.
1960: 33% of individuals diagnosed with cancer survived it.
TODAY: 60% of individuals diagnosed with cancer WILL SURVIVE it.

I believe that’s progress to be proud of.

To view the entire video collection regarding the progress that has been made through the Canadian Cancer Society, please click HERE.  Information is power.

Every dollar donated makes a difference, every step taken at the Relay for Life makes a difference.  All those donations, no matter how small, add up to become a big donation. There is power in numbers.

Why fight back?  Because every 3 minutes, another Canadian is faced with fighting cancer.  I believe the funds raised through the Relay for Life is an investment in my friend’s and family’s future.  In my children’s future.  And in my future.

The alternative is to do nothing.  How can we accept that?

There are only 20 days until the Leduc Relay for Life and every dollar raised is a step closer to making cancer history. I’ve raised my fundraising goal to $3,000 and I’m 88% to my goal.  I believe I will reach it! From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to all of those who have donated.

Please consider joining the fight to make cancer history.  Yes, my friends we are making a difference. We are making progress, we can’t stop now. 

Click to make a donation:
http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/christinehopaluk

As it turns out, my Dad will be starting his radiation treatments around the same time as the Leduc Relay for Life.  I believe…I know, he’s a fighter and a survivor. Fight, fight, fight.

I believe in Change and in the power of Community.

From my heart to yours,

Christine