Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Cancer Free!

Posted: February 8, 2012 in Personal
Tags: ,

One year ago this week I underwent the last of 35 radiation treatments following surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from my throat. It was the first time since being diagnosed that I heard the words, “Cancer Free!” It took another three weeks for the swelling to go down enough that an MRI would confirm my oncologist assessment. But I will always think of this that last treatment as the day the ordeal ended.

One year later and the words still apply; Cancer Free! It feels good. I feel good, and I want others to feel the same sensation when they hear the same words – Cancer Free!  That’s why, once again, I am writing dear readers, to ask you all to support me in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Help me to bless others the way I have been blessed.

Once again as well, I will be co-captain of a great group of people called Team Kortright. This year 11 people have signed onto Team Kortright and I am thrilled to tell you that one of those people is my brother Alex.

This is the fifth year for the Ride and many of you will remember that Alex was one of the main motivations behind my attending the first Ride to Conquer Cancer back in 2008. Alex lost an arm to cancer his last year of high school and I have always been grateful that, unlike my father, he is still here with us. He, and myself, are cancer survivors because down through the years people at places like The Campbell Family Institute at The Princess Margaret have been working hard to defeat this devastating disease in our lifetime.

If you have already donated to the 2012 campaign then I thank you, with all my heart!

If not then Please click on the link at left and help make the words Cancer Free a reality for many more people; maybe someone you know!

Thank You!

Road Tolls and the GTA

Toronto has been talking road tolls for some time now (link).

So, I’m listening to talk radio as usual, and once more the subject of road tolls going in and out of Toronto is on the agenda. Someone in Toronto is taking umbrage once again at the idea that people from outside the GTA are daring to use the roads that Toronto has paid for.

As my pal Chris and I talked about Toronto’s passive/aggressive, superiority/inferiority complex, and the impact of such a decision, it occurred to me that had such road tolls been in place in other cities over the past year it would have had an immediate impact on my own life.

As those who follow this blog know, last year I was diagnosed with cancer and since there are no cancer clinics here in Guelph I had to travel to other places to receive treatment; places like Hamilton’s Juravinski Cancer Centre on the mountain, and St. Joseph’s Hospital downtown. All told, over the last 18 months, I have made 43 trips to Hamilton for diagnosis, evaluation, surgery, radiation treatments and follow-up, with another in fact scheduled for tomorrow.

The average toll on the 407 is in the $8-$10 range, so if we use that as a base, each way, then I would have been looking at between $680 and $860 dollars an additional cost to receive my treatments had there been such tolls in place at the time. Not a great deal I’ll admit, but when you add in parking, fuel, insurance (one volunteer driver told me his insurance company increased his rates when they found out what he was doing) it adds up. Especially if you are on a limited income. Like many of the volunteer drivers who took me to my appointments are.

Even if I owned a car, the nature of the majority of my treatments were such that I was told not to drive on the days of my appointments. And while many of my friends offered to drive me down and back again, scheduling conflicts resulted in about 2/3 of the trips being made with the help of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cancer Society volunteers drive patients to doctor appointments and treatment sessions all over the country. Most of them are retired folks looking to do some good with their free time.  As a result most of them are also on a fixed income. Even with the small mileage stipend provided by the Society (at the time of my radiation visits it was $0.20/km) most of these drivers end up spending a good chunk of change providing this service. Many that used to volunteer are ceasing to do so due to the expense. Adding road tolls on top of fuel, etc. is not going to help stem the decline.

Hundreds of people every day travel to major cities like Toronto, Hamilton, and London not because we have chosen to live or work there but because some medical facilities are available nowhere else. Every time the cost of traveling to one of these cities goes up, the cost for some people, of staying healthy, or even alive, goes up with it.

Now, would road tolls have kept me from going for my treatments? Of course not! But they would have kept me from going for coffee or even lunch while I was there as my lunch money would have had to go to pay the toll. And what city can afford that in this economy? And it likely would have forced me to seek out alternate, and likely far more expensive, means of transportation as there would have been a lot fewer volunteers.

Is this reason enough to avoid ideas like road tolls to raise revenue in major cities? In a practical world, I suppose not. But I hope at least that by raising the issue measures would be taken to reduce the impact of such decisions, like exempting those traveling for health care reasons from paying such tolls. (Please feel free to share this blog with any decision makers you may know.)

It is expenses such as these that contribute to the health care burden on the average citizen. These are among the ‘hidden’ health care costs that rarely get calculated into the formulas. Politicians and bureaucrats need to remember that road tolls and other revenue raising methods can affect more than just the bottom line.

Till next time… Shalom.

NEWSTALK 1010 – IN-DEPTH RADIO :: BREAKING NEWS: Cancer Forces Layton To Step Aside As NDP Leader.

I’ve just finished listening to Jack Layton’s press conference on the radio and at first I thought it was someone reading a prepared statement on his behalf. But no, it was Jack Layton, sounding incredibly unlike Jack Layton.

It turns out Jack’s battle with cancer is far from over. Though he seems to be winning the battle with prostate cancer, a new unspecified cancer has caused the NDP leader to take a leave of absense from the leadership of his party and the Official Opposition in Parliament. It should not be so!

I’ve never been a supporter of the NDP, and there have been times I’ve wondered what Jack was smoking; but, I would never want to see him taken down by anything other than a worthy political opponent or one of his own mis-steps. To be struck down by the most relentless disease on the planet is a fate that no one deserves. I will be praying for Jack’s healing in the days to come. I ask you to do the same if you are a person of prayer.

I will also ride for Jack in the 2012 Ride to Conquer Cancer in June of next year, as I do for everyone I know who has been struck by this disease.

I have been fortunate; blessed by God and the dedicated professionals in Ontario’s excellent health care system, I am cancer free and will fight to remain so. But for Jack Layton and millions of others the battle continues. Help me help them in the fight. Jack is receiving treatment at the Princess Margaret Hospital. To donate to continue funding for the PMH’s world leading research and treatment programs please click on the banner on the right and support me in the 2012 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Horns of a Dilemma

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Politics
Tags: , ,

As I listen to the rhetoric start to ramp up as we slowly careen toward the provincial election in October, I find myself once again torn on the subject of who to throw my vote away on.  Do I sound cynical? Well, that’s likely because more and more I find politics so generally reprehensible that elections are starting to resemble the process where the prisoner gets to choose their mode of execution; one way or the other, you’re still dead.

My dilemma largely starts with the fact that I can’t define myself neatly on either the left or the right politically. While I have a number of conservative tendencies, I also support many policies traditionally associated with the left. The result is I’m not allowed the luxury of being able to stamp my forehead with a party logo and lock myself mindlessly in step with whatever drivel drools out of the party leader’s mouth. I am forced to examine the evidence, consider all the ramifications and try to come to a rational decision as to which political entity is least likely to cause Canada, or in this case Ontario, to follow the same course as say, Greece.

Let’s take Dalton’s tax record for example. Tim Hudak and the PC Party of Ontario love to point out that Dalton promised not to raise taxes and then promptly introduced the Health Premium; essentially a tax to help pay for health care in Ontario. As a recent cancer survivor I find myself less upset about this lie than I used to be.

In the last nine months I have had 4 CT scans, 3 x-rays, 2 MRIs, 36 radiation treatments, 2 surgeries, 1 colonoscopy and 26 office appointments with a GP, an ear/nose and throat specialist, two surgeons, an oncologist, and a GI specialist and throughout it all the only cash I had to fork out personally was cab fare.  I have no idea how much all of that costs. I’m not even sure I’d like to know as I am sure it’s a frightening figure; but if you were to tell me that the reason none of that cost had to come out of my own pocket was Dalton’s Health Premium, I wouldn’t quibble with you for a second.  MRIs and CT scans and Radiation machines are expensive and the money has to come from somewhere and asking me to pony up my share is entirely reasonable.

But lying about it isn’t. According to the CQCO (Cancer Quality Council of Ontario) if you are diagnosed with cancer in Ontario you have “one of the best chances of survival anywhere in the world.” [ref] And the billions we spend on health care here is the reason why; not to mention the millions raised by events such as the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  This is something we should be proud of and celebrate, but our leaders still find it hard to just be open about it and say, “Look, it costs billions to make health care happen and taxes are the main source of that money.” Then make sure you taxation strategy is fair and balanced.

But when you lie about it and try to hide it and obfuscate the details so that people who disagree with you are more likely to vote for you it does not inspire any level of confidence even if the result is largely positive. Give the public some credit and simply tell us how much stuff costs and how you’re going to pay for stuff up front. So while I understand the need for the tax, lying about it does not increase my willingness to vote Liberal.

That said, I’m also sure there’s a big slice of those billions are being pissed away paying consultants and contractors and others way too much to do things that have been done before and accomplish very little that actually results in more people getting colonoscopies, surgeries, and visits to the doctor’s office.  I’m sure of this because I know from experience that’s the way far too many bureaucracies work (remember eHealth), and b) that’s the way far too many consultants manage to stay in business (again eHealth).

I am also fairly sure there are savings to be found on the front lines as well. I used to work security for one of the hospitals in Guelph and was curious as to why the guy mowing the lawn got paid as much as the orderlies did. One of the staff in the administration office told me it was because “of the extra training and skills required to do the job in a sterile hospital environment.” I will never forget that line.  Mow the Lawn? In a sterile hospital environment? Really?? 

And yet, while I’m sure cutting health care costs is on Hudak’s agenda, most of what he has said so far leaves me convinced that I can’t trust him to be selective enough in his cutting to do any real good. Rather than separate the wheat from the chaff, I can easily picture him just burning the whole field; leaving me unable to confidently vote PC either.

So you see my dilemma, no matter which option I choose I’m fairly certain the end result will be a horn up my butt. And not just with health care. A similar each-one-is-as-bad-as-the-other scenario can be demonstrated for just about every aspect of my existence.  My only hope seems to be that somewhere in the next hundred days one or the other of them will screw up so bad the decision will be made for me.

Until next time… Shalom

Seven Days to Go

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Cycling, Personal
Tags: , ,

That’s right, seven days from now I will be on the road riding my Trek 7100 bicycle from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Well, actually, from the C.N.E. grounds to Mohawk College the first day, then off to Table Rock Park in Niagara on Sunday. Nevertheless, there’s only a week to go and the excitement is starting to build.

It will be strange this year; having been through cancer this past winter has altered my perspective.  I have a small concern about my energy levels, but I know I’ll make it though it may take longer. But I’m wondering what it will be like riding as a survivor. There are people I’ve met in previous years who will remember me if they see me and it will be interesting to see how they respond when they see the yellow flag and socks sported by survivors on the ride.

On the other hand seeing the hundreds of yellow flags sticking up from the crowd of 5000 riders at the starting line is a testament to the success of cancer research over the years. More and more people are surviving this terrible disease, and it’s because of research being done with dollars raised through events like the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

There is a small development on the side effects front. I was told that the radiation would kill off a bunch of the hair follicles in my face rendering my beard history. However, last week I noticed when I was saving that most of them are actually functioning again! The only ones that seem to be affected are lower down in an area I usually shave anyway when I trim my beard back. So, much to Roberta’s relief, I’m growing the beard back. She never has liked me clean shaven.

Getting back to the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I’m at the 80% mark in my fundraising and have such a short way to go to reach my goal of $2500 in donations. If everyone who sees clicks on the banner at right and contributes just $10 I’ll reach and surpass that goal with plenty to spare. So much in fact that if you go to my personal page and find I have reached my goal, please support one of the other members of Team Kortright is has not on my behalf.

I know, I’m really pushing the donation thing, but it is only Seven Days and counting!

Thanks everyone!

Shalom.