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“I speak about cancer. I ride my bike. I do these things because I want to change the story. I want a different ending.”
In 2008, Patrick Sullivan lost his young son Finn to an extremely rare form of cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma. A few months later, he was approached by two close friends: “They told me about this fundraising bike ride to Seattle, the Ride to Conquer Cancer. They wanted to put a team in it – and do it in honour of Finn. That was the start of Team Finn.”
Every member of Team Finn is inspired by a little boy who lived every moment of his short life to the fullest. Their distinctive pink jerseys read “Run. Jump. Bounce. Dance. Sing. Love. Smile. Ride,” words that celebrate Finn’s approach to every day.
Finn showed how to live life with courage and joy, and his example has helped Team Finn achieve extraordinary success in raising funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. In just three years, they have raised over $1 million to support cancer research. As Finn’s father says, “Doctors couldn’t change Finn’s story. ‘Incurable’ was his ending. If I could change that for somebody else, then every moment of time is worth it.”
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December 2011 Blogs
It is my tenet, and I use this for my children as well as my students, that one’s objective in any situation is to make it better. To stand back and observe, and then engage in a way that makes it better. It can be a simple game in the schoolyard gone awry or an operating room that has run into catastrophe.
Clearly I have over-extended my invitation, so this is my last post (and with 2012 just around the corner, the next blogger is already on standby, I’m told).
I note that there are a lot of “I,” “me,” “my” and “mine” in my posts, but it certainly was not my intent to make this a self-serving exposé on Brian Toyota.
In previous posts, I have directly alluded to the future of cancer treatment and the repetitiveness of this topic, I believe, validates its existence and realistic potential. The future of cancer treatment in general has to do with personalized medicine and molecular or genetic analysis, like Dr.
I like being a brain surgeon. I like my work. The operating room is my office, and I get to say things like “STAT” and “scalpel.” Although, I have never once said “STAT” except to imitate some character on M.A.S.H., and I have always called a “scalpel” a “knife” for reasons I don’t really remember.
Now I’d like to focus on brain surgery. You’ve likely heard the phrase “it ain’t brain surgery” used in a casual conversation, but it’s not to me—it IS brain surgery.
There is a lot of information available about current treatment strategies for brain cancers, but I’d like to touch on just a few points here.
We have expanded our brain tumour team (in the Neuro-Oncology Group) with the addition of patient and family counsellors, nurses, and occupational therapists. These professionals ensure that all facets of care are attended to, including blood tests, X-ray results, wound healing and beyond.
In the Neuro-Oncology Group at the BC Cancer Agency, we are driven to use our experience to improve the flow and breadth of care for patients. It is not sufficient to simply watch hundreds, actually thousands, of reactions to those awful words, “you have brain cancer.” We have used these observations to answer the question: How can we make this situation better?
Though I have spoken those words literally hundreds of times, I don’t really know what it feels like to receive those words. I have, however, seen a stunning emotional range of reactions.
By itself, the term brain tumour is monstrous. And to receive it as a diagnosis is paralyzing.
Our humanity is defined by our brains—a brain tumour is therefore a direct attack on it. All those who have endured a brain tumour, and all those who have witnessed a loved one endure a brain tumour, know this too well.