Cancer… When I started my career at the Alberta Cancer Foundation in December of 2008 I was excited to be contributing to an organization that was investing in so many impactful projects in cancer research, prevention and screening programs, and enhancing patient care within cancer centres across Alberta. I was helping others. “Others” I say that purposefully. But so much has changed since then.
Many people close to me have been touched by cancer, but no one closer than my wife, Denise. Three-and-a-half years into my role here, she heard those dreaded words: “You have cancer.” It was on her 37th birthday.
My first thoughts were all over the place? This isn’t happening. What does this mean? How is Denise doing with this? Is she going to be alright? I can’t lose her…but I should be prepared. What do we tell our kids? My work should have prepared me for this,I know the statistics. One in two Albertans will hear those words at some point in their lifetime. There are four people in our family (we are blessed with two young sons). But why Denise? She is fit, healthy, eats well, is physically active, and she has no cancer history in her family. This doesn’t make sense!
To those reading this blog who have or have had cancer, or a loved one who has gone through their own cancer journey understands the questions that ran through my head. Why? Why me (or my wife in this case)? But like most, you get over the initial shock and are eager to know what needs to happen to get better.
First for our family was a solid health plan and strategy. The team at the Cross Cancer Institute were (are) simply amazing. Long story short, Denise was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer. She was fortunate that her tumor was in a “perfect” spot to operate and remove the tumor. After surgery she went through 6-months of chemotherapy and today shows no signs of cancer.
Our family is grateful to our entire support system – including our family, our friends, the medical professionals (including the entire team at the Cross Cancer Institute), and our colleagues at work who were there for us and understanding of our situation. Denise is feeling great, but our journey is not over. Our family remains inspired by the cancer research progress that continues to be made at the Cross Cancer Institute, but understands that there is more to be done. To us personally, we wish for rapid assessments, faster diagnosis and for patients to be able to get into treatment leading to positive outcomes with less negative side effects. We believe the researchers in Alberta are making headway in this area.
~By Daryl Silzer, Guest Blogger & Alberta Cancer Foundation Associate VP-Fund Development