Chuck Somers remembers his son, Dylan as a quick-witted boy who loved to make people laugh. In January 2016, he lost his son to stomach cancer. Today, he shares his story.
“He said he had a sore throat so we took him to the doctor, they said he probably had heartburn so they gave him some heartburn pills. Then about two weeks later he threw up a quarter of his blood. We ended up in the hospital and that’s when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. It was devastating,” says Chuck. Months later, at the age of 22 years, Dylan passed away.
Growing up Dylan had a close group of friends. He met his childhood friends Richard, David, Tyson and Sydney in Kindergarten and they stayed close for years after. “He was very popular. He met his close friends in Kindergarten, and all through high school, they remained very close. He was always smiling and loved to make people laugh. Even after he was diagnosed he wanted to stay positive and didn’t want to talk about it much. He continued to go to work and was always there for his friends. He would offer to be the designated driver and even if they called him at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning he would go and pick them up.”
Dylan being someone they grew up with, his passing affected his friends really hard. “I think it woke up a lot of his friends. A lot of people know about cancer but I think his death hit a lot of his friends really hard,” says Chuck. Since then, Dylan’s close friends and family rally together every year to raise money in his honor for cancer research. In January, they organize a fundraiser in Dylan’s memory. Dylan loved sports. They have organized baseball tournaments and a fundraising hockey game with the SAIT Trojans team, which Dylan’s sister Keely Somers played for. And for three years they have hosted the Dylan Somers Memorial Slo–Pitch Tournament. Every year hundreds of Dylan’s friends and peers would come to show their support and help raise funds in his memory. Since 2017, they have raised over $18,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, with all proceeds going towards cancer research at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary.
Chuck and his family are grateful for the support of Dylan’s friends and the community. “Every year we look forward to the baseball tournament in July. We look forward to the fundraisers in January, and we are so grateful for the support from all his childhood friends who still keep in contact with us. A group of them is so close to us. We’ve been a part of their lives and seen them progress on different paths. Dylan’s friend Richard Hendrickson and his wife Jessica just had a baby, and they name him Rohan Dylan Hendrickson.”
Everybody deals with grief differently. For Chuck and his wife Kate Somers, the fundraisers and reunions with Dylan’s friends have helped tremendously. Chuck admits that Kate played a major role not only with the fundraisers but also in helping them stay close and connected with Dylan’s friends throughout the year. “Every May long weekend, Kate would invite all of his friends up to our cabin by the lake. Dylan really liked the lake, so it’s a huge celebration. It just makes my wife so happy and seeing her happy during those times makes me feel a lot better also.”
Cancer has been a forefront in Chuck’s life for a long time. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, and to this day continues to receive treatment. When days are rough Chuck knows that his son is with him in spirit. “I just spent quite a bit of time at the Rockyview Hospital to remove my bladder in May, I knew Dylan was with me at that time and he’s still with me – all the time,” says Chuck.
Dylan loved being in the mountains and spending time with his family and friends by the Lake. He also loved to sea-doo and wakeboard. Soon after he was diagnosed, Chuck and Kate bought Dylan a puppy named Luke. Luke soon became a comforting companion for Dylan, and they were rarely apart. Today, Chuck takes comfort in spending time with Luke. “Dylan really loved to sea doo on the lake, and as soon as I took Luke out to the lake shortly after Dylan passed he jumped right on the sea doo and now he rides around with his life jacket and goggles in front of me! Luke and I are very close and I know it sounds silly but I think Dylan is with me through Luke.“
It means a lot to Chuck and his family to be able to give back to the cancer center. Every few months, Chuck stops by the Tom Baker Cancer Centre to visit the nurses who helped treat his son. “I still stop by with candy. Even though it’s been close to four years, they still remember him and every time I come in, we talk about him. I’m just so happy that we can contribute back in a positive way for Dylan’s memory. Keeping his memory alive and being positive, raising funds but also knowing how these funds impact others has helped our family and friends a lot.”
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