At the age of 40, Max Chan started to take his health more seriously, by starting to get more regular check-ups and blood work – something he claims to have ignored for decades. Along with taking his health more seriously, Max was in the best shape in a long time, which retrospectively, he admits, was ironic.
As part of ongoing check-ups, his doctor saw a few things warranting more testing. After his CT scan on February 27, 2020 (a date Max will never forget), his doctor discovered a golf-ball-sized mass on his right kidney, which was later confirmed to be stage 1 Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC). “I’ve never had a feeling quite like I had when Dr. Strother called me later that morning and asked me and my wife to come in immediately,” said Max. “I then knew it was not good news but did not expect to hear it was cancer.”
No more than two weeks later, Max was referred to a Urological Oncology surgeon, Dr. Duffy, at the Southern Alberta Institute of Urology at the Rockyview Hospital. Those, what seemed to be never-ending two weeks, made Max think about every conceivable outcome of his diagnosis.
It left him with questions “Is it terminal? Is it treatable? How do I tell our kids? Can I ever return to a normal life?.”
Unfortunately, like many, Max’s already difficult cancer journey was affected by COVID-19, as he was diagnosed just weeks before the pandemic hit. Max had a very real and valid concern of postponed surgeries, which luckily, was not the case for him. Not long after being assured that his early diagnosis and the location of the tumor, surgical intervention was the best treatment option. In May 2020, Max had a nephrectomy, which is a procedure to remove a part of his Kidney.
The unfortunate reality of his situation was not being able to have any visitors by his side when going through his journey and surgeries. “That was really hard on us not to be able to be there, but between Facetime and just needing the time to rest it was manageable.” With the incredible care and friendly and compassionate nature of the staff at Rockyview General Hospital, it helped Max ease the stress and strain. “These people embody what it means to be dedicated healthcare workers.”
Max, now fully recovered and cancer-free joins a proud group of incredible cancer survivors. The physical recovery of his surgery took some time and had a large impact on his body, but he has since been able to return to a relatively active lifestyle. “I’ve skied more days this season than I ever have – nearly 40 days,” said Max. “I didn’t get a chance to mountain bike much last summer, but I am looking forward to more this summer with my family.” This year, Max is also taking on the challenge of cycling in and fundraising for the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer.
Max highlights the importance of early detection, which is what made his journey with cancer a ‘success story.’ “Middle-aged men like myself, we are a stubborn and foolish cohort sometimes and take for granted that the indestructible bodies we thought we had as teenagers will continue on in life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way so we have to stay on top of our check-ups,” says Max.
“I’ve told people this is a club you never want to join, but are proud to be part of once you’re in it as you get to see true resilience and strength,” said Max. “There’s a big community out there and organizations like the Alberta Cancer Foundation help bring it all together.”
To date, Max has raised over $37,000 through the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer, becoming one of the top individual fundraisers this year.
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