On Wednesday the press confirmed that Rob Ford, the controversial mayor of Toronto, has a grapefruit-sized tumour growing in his stomach. He has an aggressive and rare form of cancer called malignant liposarcoma. This cancer rapidly grows in fatty tissue, nerves or muscle. Mr. Ford is undergoing a cycle of aggressive chemotherapy, as well as possible surgery if the tumour shrinks in size through his treatment plan.
Whatever emotions evoked because of this guy, rage, hate, disdain, disgust, or perhaps love and respect, I think we can all stand on common ground in this opinion, he certainly does not lack in tenacity department. He was knocked down many times by his naysayers, be they right or wrong, but always managed to get back up, even returning to city hall to presume his job as boss of a huge, urban jungle, despite a stint in rehab. I remember watching on the news, after his treatment in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, he was ushered back into to City Hall through a herd of reporters, a grin on his large, ruddy face. “Gotta get back to work!” he said.
I was lying in bed last night thinking about the C-word. One thing about the big C, this disease ain’t prejudice. No matter your age, race, social status, or how many bucks you’ve got in the bank, it can strike anyone at anytime. Growing up through the years, I never gave cancer much thought. In my youthful naiveté, I thought of this disease as something distant. It happened to other people, and could never affect me or my family. In the early 90’s a relative of mine lost her brave battle with breast cancer. It was shocking for me and my first close encounter with cancer. Still, I never thought she would lose her battle. I always thought this was a set back, and she would return to her family from her hospital bed. She was a young, vibrant woman, not even forty yet, with a little girl and a loving husband. She was the only person I knew with cancer. That’s how cancer was back then, shocking and infrequent. With all the money donated to cancer research though lotteries and marathons, it seems to be increasing in cases. When I hear that someone was diagnosed with cancer these days, sadly it’s not shocking anymore because I’m hearing of more and more cases. My loved ones, my loved ones loved ones, past and present co-workers, cancer has affected us all. In many cases, this disease was like a thief in the night. Coming and destroying when the person least expected it, quiet and still. An insidious predator sneaking up on its prey without warning. When they felt the pain it was too late. The diseased cells had already done their worst. As in the mayor’s case, his type of cancer is rarely detected, because the tumour can be hidden deep in the tissue, fat, nerves or muscles and the person feels no pain. This is terrifying!
Twenty odd years ago, I knew one person with cancer, now I don’t have enough fingers to count the people I know who have been diagnosed and survived, who are fighting the disease or who have sadly lost their battle. The mayor is in for the fight of his life. All his past demons are pale in comparison, but if anyone can fight this predator head on, it’s him.
“My heart goes out to anyone who is facing similar health battles and to your families who are standing strong behind you. But friends, please, please, never give up. Be strong, stay positive and never give up.”
– Rob Ford