Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

I missed wishing you all “Merry Christmas”, so I thought I would make sure I got myself UN-busy enough to get online and wish you all “Happy New Year”....

Since my last posting I have been very busy with the holiday season ‘stuff’....  Lot’s of visiting with family and friends.... LOT’S of eating.... Lot’s of fun....and making plans for today, tomorrow and on into 2007.

I’ve been blessed with incredibly supportive family and friends.... This year all my immediate family was home for Christmas and I had a chance to visit or at least talk to many of my friends - old and new. 

Our house was full for Christmas.... it started on the 22nd of December when our oldest son came home from Edmonton.... on the 23rd my younger sister and her family came down from Calgary, my dad came in from Magrath and our youngest son came home.  We spent the two days and nights before Christmas shopping, eating, playing games and reminiscing.  It was a blast. On Christmas day, I was up at 4 am getting things ready to go....  not that I had to be, but I was so excited about Christmas and everyone being together again I couldn’t sleep.  My older sister and her husband came down from Calgary to join us for dinner.  The family was all together - it’s been a very long time since we’ve all been together for Christmas.  We had a great meal and good times. 

Christmas stretched into the week.... My sisters and father all headed home and we relaxed and got ready for the rest of the week.... I celebrated my 49th Birthday by getting together with a few friends.... we had another mini-Christmas when more gifts arrived later in the week.... we had a Christmas party to attend - with more food and fun....  It’s just been one long Christmas celebration! 

So here we are.... New Years Eve....  It’s been an incredible year and we are on the verge of entering an even more incredible one!  I have some plans for 2007.... I’ll let you know more about them as things come together....  I just know this will be another fantastic year.... how can it NOT be???  I have an incredible support team of friends and family....  we have learned to live each day to the fullest.  We make the best of every situation.  My battle with prostate cancer is far from over.... but we are refreshed and ready to fight even harder this year!

From my family to yours - We wish you Health, Happiness, Faith and Love in 2007!  Happy New Year!!

Until next time....

Posted by John on 12/31 at 11:30 AM
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

2nd Anniversary….

Well, here we are again....  I’ve managed another year.... 2 down - hopefully many more to come!

This has been an incredible year.  So much has happened.... 

It took quite a bit of time to get things organized for my Cycle For Life bike ride.... Thankfully I had a LOT of help from friends and co-workers.  Without that help the ride would have never been as successful as it was.... I would have gotten it done, but it would have been much more difficult and not near as much fun.

I have made many new friends this year.  The closest of those friends is Tim Harper.... Currently a police officer in Calgary.  I was introduced to Tim by Dave Westlake.... Tim had also planned a cross Canada ride for this year.  Dave found out and put us in touch.  We e-mailed back and forth but never met until May 15th.... And then only briefly as there was a lot planned that day before the ride started.  Tim and I finally had a chance to sit and talk on Day 2 of the ride while we took the ferry to Vancouver.  We hit it off and enjoyed riding together for 10 days before we parted ways. He headed home to Cochrane and I to Lethbridge… We both continued on our own from that point until June 22 when Tim surprised me on the road.... We continued on from there to Charlottetown PEI before parting ways again.... Tim needed to finish a few days before my planned finish....  He joined me again on Day 70.... About 25 km outside of St. John’s NF we met up once again and Tim rode in with me.  We still talk to each other frequently and Tim has made a few trips down to Lethbridge.

Another friend from the trip is Rob Fort.... A retired Port Coquitlam FF.  He helped with the arrangements for Day 2 of our ride… He also rode with us from the ferry terminal in Vancouver all the way to Hope.  Rob and I spent a lot of time talking during our ride.  He is an incredible person and truly made days 2 and 3 memorable. 

Another great friend from the ride is Scott Chisholm.... A FF from Thunder Bay.  Scott looked after things in Thunder Bay.  Scott was an amazing host.  He welcomed me to his home where I met his family - Shelley, Curtis, and Kyle.  He arranged for riders to join us heading into Thunder Bay.... He arranged lodging, meals, media and even set me up at a local bike shop to get my bike properly serviced....Scott is very involved in cancer awareness and support in Thunder Bay.  He was working on ‘Project Yellow Jersey’ as well as my ride.  Project Yellow Jersey was a HUGE event in TB.... Scott had managed to get a signed Lance Armstrong Yellow Jersey which was donated to the local hospitals cancer ward.  He got all of the local Jr and Sr High Schools involved in a fundraiser for the project.  Unfortunately, the presentation was a week after I left TB.  Scott did send me a copy of the program on DVD.... It’s incredible!!  Very touching as he got people affected by cancer to take part in a video presentation.... How cancer had touched their lives....  Scott also assisted me with getting in touch with TREK who donated a bike to help me complete my ride. 

Two more friends are Jason and Julie.... They were a newly married couple riding across Canada. We first met them in BC.  Tim and I had become separated due to mechanical problems. Tim ran into them first and asked if they had seen me.... Which of course they hadn’t.... Then I ran into them and found out that Tim had passed me while I was fixing my bike just off the highway.  I ran into them again in Manitoba at Falcon Lake.... Then again the next day at the Ontario boarder.... And in Dryden.  They new I was having trouble finding a driver from TB to Toronto.... They tracked me down in Thunder Bay and offered to drive for a few days if we couldn’t find anyone.  They had decided to give up a portion of their ride to help out....an amazingly generous young couple.  Luckily Dave Westlake was able to come out to drive, so Jason and Julie pushed on.... We ran into them for the last time in Wawa....  I still keep in touch with them. They are currently in Taiwan....working as teachers.... They are planning a bike trip around New Zealand in 2007.

The other friends I made on the trip were people I’ve known for a while...but never really got to KNOW....  Rene and Annette, Cody and Shawn, Marc, Curtis and Arne, Dave, Ryan, Sebastien, Patrick and his dad Nick, Bonnie, Monica and her daughters Kayla and Kelsey.  These are the people who drove the motorhome across the country.... And helped with organizing, entertaining, feeding etc....  Friends without whom this ride would have been far less successful and fun.  They kept me going.... Offering words of encouragement and helping me to laugh when I didn’t feel like laughing.... Brightening every day of the trip.  They fed me, kept me in line and kept me on schedule. Some rode with me.... They also helped document the trip by taking photos.... Thousands of photos.... Thank You all so much!!  Of course, very few of these people would have been able to help out if not for those who worked shifts for them.... THANKS to ALL of you as well.... Your contribution to the ride is greatly appreciated.

Another huge thanks to Will Wright for all his work, especially in the final few weeks of my ride.... Trying to keep track of us when we had no way to communicate… Finalizing things for me… Thanks to all the members of the Lethbridge FireFighters Charities Committee for their help and Local 237 President, Rob Chollak for helping with communications with the IAFF members across the country.

Most importantly, my best friend… My wife Cindy.  Cindy kept things going at home for the first 5 weeks of my bike trip.... she held things together and via our telephone conversations kept me going. Offering support to my efforts and encouraging me every day.  Thankfully Cindy was able to join me in Toronto and spend the last 5 weeks of the journey with me.  Her smiling face brightened every day.... Her love and understanding held me together throughout the trip.... being able to share my love of biking and show her the brotherhood of Fire Fighters across this country helped her to understand why I was doing the ride. She met many amazing people.... and made many lifelong friends.  Cindy, I Love You!

If I have forgotten anyone, I am sorry....  But I am thankful to you all for your continued support throughout this year.

The ride took a lot out of me....  I wasn’t sure how much....  When I returned home I had my PSA’s checked - hoping that I hadn’t weakened myself enough to allow the cancer to become active again.  Boy were the doctor and I surprised to find that they had DROPPED.... They went from 0.4 to 0.2.....  We were amazed....  My clavicle, which I broke on June 22nd didn’t start to heal until late September.... And is only now allowing me to do any strength exercises with that arm.  So the new year will get me back to regular workouts in hopes of building up some of the strength I’ve lost over the past year - and there has been a huge loss in that area.

After the ride I was invited to share my story with a few groups.... The local Lions Club, The Prostate Support Group and at the Alberta FF’s convention....  They’ve gone quite well.  Although I would have never even tried to talk to groups of people prior to cancer, I really enjoy it now.  I talked to so many small groups during the bike trip that it has become quite easy to do now.  The FF convention was a little nerve racking as I’d talked to groups of up to 30 people during the ride and after… But 200+ people was a little more intimidating.... It went well though, and nobody seemed to notice how bad the legs were shaking LoL

2007 will start with my further attempt at getting WCB to accept my claim.  A study done in Cincinnati and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) in November of this year shows, again, that FF are at an increased risk of prostate cancer.... The study indicated that firefighters had a probable risk for multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate and testicular cancers. Eight other cancers were listed as having a “possible” association with firefighting.

I do plan on doing another bike ride in 2007.... Only a 4-5 day trip this time....  To raise money for the local Cancer Center.... Hopefully to go towards the radiation unit.  Having a radiation unit in Lethbridge would save 1000’s of people the worry and hassle of traveling to Calgary for treatment.

Well.... That’s it....  I just want to thank you all for your support over the past year.  The e-mails I have recieved...the comments in the BLOG...they mean a lot. It’s great to hear from you all!

Until next time....

Posted by John on 12/21 at 10:52 AM
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

LAF Manifesto Video

The Lance Armstrong Foundation has put out a video of their manifesto....  This is a must see.... go to this site and check it out.

The Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.

We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.

We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.

We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.

Learn More

Visit the Lance Armstrong Foundation Web Site


Until next time....

Posted by John on 12/16 at 01:34 AM
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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wow…. It’s been almost a month….

I can’t believe that it’s been almost a month since my last post....  I guess I’ve been busy doing things....  it just doesn’t seem that way.

I have been getting ready for Christmas.... and YES, I’m excited....  I LOVE Christmas!!  This year I have even enjoyed shopping.... even with all the people out.... in fact that’s half the fun - watching people shop. I love watching the little kids as their eyes light up when they see Santa....  I have enjoyed looking for gifts for the special people in my life....  I have been baking - yup, I love to cook… bake… make candy....  It’s one of the ways I relax.  It also makes great personalized gifts....

I have also been doing more research on prostate cancer in Fire Fighters....  and there is where the happiness ends.  I have been hearing from Fire Fighters in Canada and the U.S.A. who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.... many of which are in their early 40’s....  and they have been diagnosed only after far too long looking for other explanation for their symptoms.  Doctors still don’t look for prostate cancer early if you are under 50 years old.... I don’t understand it!  Prostate cancer is much more aggressive when found in men in their 30’s and 40’s....  Why do doctors just assume that at those ages we are too young to have prostate cancer??  And why, as men, do we accept that?? 

A new study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) shows that as Fire Fighters we are at an increased risk of prostate cancer as well as many other cancers....  The findings indicated that firefighters had a probable cancer risk for multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancers due to our job.  As Fire Fighters we need to share that information with our doctors.... preferably before problems exist.  When problems do show up, all men should be talking to their doctors about the chances of prostate cancer.... ask to have a PSA test… Pay for it yourself if need be....  Why take the chance??

Okay, back to getting ready for Christmas....  now where did I put the tape?

Until next time.... 

Posted by John on 12/10 at 10:58 PM
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