Two months short of two years after her initial cancer diagnosis I watched my wife Linnea, my love, take her last breath. I held her in my arms and I wept, and I told her that it was OK to let go. To please let go. The room filled with unimaginable wails and I was only scarcely aware that they were coming from me.
I have enjoyed living and working in Toronto for the past 35 years, calling Blue Jays games across our great country. But I have also enjoyed just as much sharing my story during the month of Movember in hopes of helping other men realize how valuable early detection is in fighting prostate cancer at the most treatable stages.
I am consoled by having the ability to share my story in the hopes that it can help others. Whether or not a fellow melanoma warrior speaks openly about their own diagnosis, I can give my perspective, and my new-found optimism, to those who may feel as isolated as I did when I found out I have stage 3b skin cancer.
Little by little, I was feeling better, more able to get out of bed, more in control of my own emotions. I was, quite literally, drawing myself out of depression -- the deepest depression I've ever known. With these drawings, I was trying to make sense of how to live with cancer, but I was also trying to work out how to go on living with joy, wonder, and especially hope.
Planning for a return to work after time away for cancer treatment can be a daunting and stressful task. Occupational therapist Leslie Gibson says patients often come to her with concerns about the transition - from worries about fatigue to forgetfulness and concentration to anxiety about how colleagues will act around them once they return.
The whole country came together. Not since Terry Fox have we seen such a strong example of how a Canadian could summon so much national camaraderie among the people.... All we had to do was sing along to songs we knew by heart, allow ourselves to feel the moment, let our tears express how we felt, let our fellow Canadians know we were all in this together, and then, as a nation, say goodbye to Gord Downie. The best part is we will never really say goodbye to The Tragically Hip. As long as we have kids, camping trips, road trips, backyard barbecues, headphones and private moments, we will never have to say goodbye.
On the night of Friday, August 12th, at the Air Canada Centre, I saw one of my all-time favourite bands play for the last time ever. I warned my friend I would probably cry at the end of the show, but it only took the first song for my eyes to well up with tears. the feeling was very surreal, as the circumstances were not of your typical farewell tour.
While more fashionable bands have faded into musical footnotes, the Hip has enjoyed a 32-year career and domestic deification. But now the part of their name that has the most resonance as the Hip rocks its way across the nation one final time is "tragically." Not that you could tell from the surface euphoria onstage and in the stands as Gord Downie's incurable brain cancer took a backseat for a couple hours of communal rock catharsis during the band's 25-song concert at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.