Shawn Christie's Story
It’s hard to understand just how important Exceptional Cancer Care is until you need it most.
Two years ago, I found a bump in my neck and went to my family doctor. He thought it was probably an infection of some sort, but sent me for an ultrasound to confirm. That led to a CT scan and an appointment with a specialist. It turned out that I had a tumour in my neck, and biopsies revealed it was cancerous in three spots.
Cancer. From the moment I heard that word, everything was a blur. You don’t really know what’s happening. You’re listening, but nothing’s really sinking in. I was just asking questions because I thought that’s what I should do. Cancer.
I had my tonsils removed, and could only eat soft foods and liquids for a month. Then, they inserted a feeding tube and on Halloween I started my first of three chemotherapy treatments and the first of 35 radiation treatments, 35-40 minutes per day, five days a week for seven weeks.
Soon after the side effects came – radiation therapy takes a fair toll on the body – and I was in a gruelling chase with medications. Different drugs work for different people in different ways, they told me, so it’s a guessing game. Plus, it can take days for the medications to work. There is nothing you can really do but just grin and bear it.
Except that was difficult too. You’re up, you’re down, and you try to stay positive. Talking with other patients was helpful – they knew what I was going through. Besides, I didn’t want to burden my family with it any more than they already were. Supportive Care services at the Cancer Centre really helped me deal with the mental and emotional side of cancer too.
What I’m most grateful for is that I had all my treatments right here in Thunder Bay. Coping with cancer and cancer treatments is hard enough. I can’t imagine going through what I did AND have to leave town to do it. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to go anywhere else – we’ve got world-class care right here in Thunder Bay. In fact, I called around to some other cancer centres – I had to, to make sure I had the best chance to survive. And you know what they told me? The care here is as good as anywhere in the world. You can’t believe the peace of mind that gives you.
Without the cancer centre and the many generous donors to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation who support them, I wouldn’t be here for my family.
I’m a living testament that local cancer care does make a difference. This is a life-long thing for me now – I will live with cancer for the rest of my life. I’m on a highly nutritious diet to keep my body strong. Today more than ever, I have a great chance at a long life.
For others, their cancer journey has yet to start. Thank you for making a difference for all cancer patients in Thunder Bay and across Northwestern Ontario. Your donations are helping support what I believe to be the best cancer program in the world.
Father of Three, Local Business Owner, Cancer Survivor
Proud Supporter of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation