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Canadian Naval Officer Defies the Odds after Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

November 22, 2019

In the summer of 2017, Royal Canadian Navy Officer, Stephen Tomlinson was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and brain. The chances of survival were extremely low, but thanks to the experts at BC Cancer, Stephen is here today to tell his story.

The Background

Stephen Tomlinson and his wife
Stephen and his wife after his diagnosis

In 2017, Stephen returned from deployment and started to experience what he thought were allergies in the form of a cough. While persistent, Stephen assumed the cough would go away on its own.

Then he started coughing blood.

Knowing he had to seek medical advice, Stephen was given an x-ray at the Navy base hospital and was soon told by the medical team that he had lung lesions that were indicative of metastatic cancer.

“I was in such shock that the memories I have after that are almost muted.  I just kept hearing those words over and over. I thought of the impacts to my career, my children and my wife and our future together,” says Stephen.

The Diagnosis

Stephen Tomlinson during treatment at BC Cancer
Stephen Tomlinson during treatment at BC Cancer

Stephen was directed to undergo a number of follow-up tests to confirm his diagnosis. Soon after the tests were completed, Stephen received the devastating news that he had testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and brain.

“I drove home trying to think of how I was going to tell my wife, but all I could do was pull her aside from the kids to our room where all I could get out was “I have cancer honey”,” recounts Stephen.

Treatment with BC Cancer

Soon after diagnosis, Stephen started treatment with BC Cancer, undergoing two full cycles of chemotherapy amounting to a grueling 350 hours of treatment across two 12 week treatment cycles. Stephen was treated in hospital due to the chemo treatment lasting 10 hours a day, followed by a week of stomach injections to boost his production of white blood cells.

Alongside the chemo treatments, Stephen received 11 brain radiation treatments, and five major surgeries aimed at removing a tumour in his brain the size of a plum. While this time was extremely difficult for Stephen and his family, he describes the care received by BC Cancer as “incredible”.

Cancer Survivor

Stephen Tomlinson and his family
Stephen with his wife and two children

After Stephen’s harrowing cancer journey, and only being given a one in ten shot of living, he is now back to work instructing junior officers in navigation with the Navy.

“I have confidence that, were I living anywhere else, I would not be alive now”, says Stephen, “I owe that to BC Cancer and the support of generous donors for the impact their dollars have made toward the treatment and care I received.”

Now Stephen is living life to the fullest, and is happy for the time he has with his wife and two children. Stephen even wrote and published a book on his cancer journey that he hopes will uplift and provide comfort to those facing cancer.

We thank Stephen for sharing his incredible story with us. To learn more about Stephen’s book, visit: www.inkshares.com/books/onward.