Ian McAlpine should make a T-shirt that reads “Keep Strong and Carry On.”
That’s been the Montrose man’s slogan since he was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer of 2013. Thanks to a clinical trial for a drug called Tagrisso his health has stabilized, and he’s getting back to having an active lifestyle.
Ian is preparing to participate in the Daffodil Dash on April 30th at Trail’s Gyro Park, and he’s inviting local residents to join him in raising community awareness. This will be his second year walking with the Pow Cancer Team, supported by friends and his wife, Cathy.
“People have to be aware that they can get the disease not knowing it, and live with it for months, suffering from pain and ill health,” he says. “Once you feel something is wrong, you have to get in to see your doctor and get checked out – you can’t wait.”
Back in November of 2012, Cathy noticed Ian was short of breath while he was bent over tying his shoelaces.
“I didn’t consider anything then because I was in good shape; I was going to the gym and kickboxing, and so we proceeded with life,” he recalls. “I went through retirement and went on many vacations. I thought I was sleeping on a lousy mattress in Mexico, but the pain I felt was associated with the development and worsening of lung cancer.”
He was shocked to be diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. After a few different drugs helped for only short periods of time, he became one of 400 Canadians participating in the Tagrisso trial for Health Canada.
He is thankful the trial’s been successful, and also to have help from Cathy, whom he calls his health advocate.
“I was useless when it was all happening. I would hear one thing, and she’d hear the right thing,” he admits. “Her background in the medical area was a huge benefit; there was a huge learning curve just when it came to procedures, terminology, protocol, and just about everything.”
Cathy is now pouring her energy into the Dash planning committee, where she’s been instrumental in the team of volunteers heading the family-friendly Canadian Cancer Society event.
The Daffodil Dash is designed for all fitness levels; it’s composed ofa walk or a 5/10 km run. Much like Relay For Life, which had 15 successful years in Trail, the second annual Dash can be undertaken by fundraising individuals or teams. Money is raised for cancer research, prevention and support programs for people living with cancer and their families.
Thanks to donors at events like the Daffodil Dash, the Canadian Cancer Society has been able to fund research that is having an impact, such as the project Dr. Jean-Pierre Bissonnette currently has underway.
Dr. Bissonnette and his team have been using advanced medical imaging to track how lung tumours respond to radiation therapy. They’ve identified small regions of tumours that are more active and resistant to treatment and may be able to withstand higher doses of targeted radiation. A new radiation protocol is subsequently being implemented at centres across Canada and the United States, which may have a significant impact on improving lung cancer survival.
Another notable research project is being led by Dr. Annette McWilliams and her colleagues, who developed an electronic device, dubbed the “e-nose,” that detects a profile of chemicals in exhaled breath that could differentiate between people with lung cancer and high-risk smokers without lung cancer. Research like this supports the potential for the e-nose device to be used as a screening tool to identify lung cancer in its early stages.
Ian always says "he needs research to stay six months ahead of his disease" and his study company Astra Zeneca wants to make lung cancer a chronic disease like Diabetes.
“Research that is underway is not talked about enough at the community level,” says Valerie Rossi, annual giving coordinator. “It’s through local connections like Ian’s story that we as a community can highlight how critical support can be.”
After hearing feedback from the community, including its dedicated and passionate volunteers, the Society felt a need to re-energize the spirit of the Relay for Life event in Trail. As a result, last year’s Daffodil Dash raised approximately $40,000 and this year’s goal of $29,000 is within reach thanks to many generous donors and sponsors, including Teck, EZ Rock, Black Press, Gerick Sports, Zellstoff Celgar, the Goat and Kootenay Savings Credit Union.
“Thank you so much to those who have signed up for the Dash or the various events organized by the Society,” adds Rossi. “The Dash is a fun event, but it also gives the local community the opportunity to make a statement and create change.”
Participants are asked but not obligated to raise a minimum of $150 for the cause that’s so near and dear to many people’s hearts; those successful in the mission will receive a pair of yellow compression running socks.
The Dash starts promptly at 9 a.m. (day of registration opens at 8 a.m.) in Gyro Park and will wrap up by 1 p.m. The event includes entertainment, activities for the kids, and the honouring and celebrating of cancer survivors.
To register or to make a donation to the event or a specific team, like Pow Cancer Team, visit cancer.ca/daffodildash and select “BC Yukon” and then “Trail.” Registration fees are $15 for youth and $30 for adults now and $20 for youth and $40 for adults on event day.
To stay connected to the event, ‘like’ the Daffodil Dash Trail BC Facebook page or, for all Society-related happenings, the West Kootenay Boundary Canadian Cancer Society page.
To volunteer or learn more about the event, contact Valerie at 250-364-0403 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer.