Ten years ago, Patrick’s wife Carol (a trained esthetician) noticed something on his back that just didn’t look right. On her insistence, Patrick sought out an appointment with a dermatologist , who upon examining him immediately removed the suspicious mole and sent it for a biopsy. Patrick remained unworried – he was young, felt fit and was healthy. A week later all that changed. Patrick would be told that the suspicious mole was indeed Melanoma. Patrick endured two surgeries on his back and the removal of many lymph nodes which were all positive with cancer.
At Patrick’s first visit to the oncologist he was told that the outlook for him was very grim. He was diagnosed with Stage IV Malignant Melanoma. Although there was a treatment option the doctor told him it would not be worth it and he would be best to spend time with his family and get his life in order. Patrick was devastated. He couldn’t remember the drive home from the hospital. The shock and disbelief were insurmountable. “I felt like the Doctor has switched off the light at the end of the tunnel before I even got to the tunnel”.
Patrick went home that night with a heavy heart. The more he thought about it the more he began to realize that he was just not able to walk away. He could not give up. What kind of example would that be to his 14 year old step son? No, Patrick was determined that he was going to summon up all his strength and was not going to let this beat him without a fight. He was 41 and had so much more he wanted to do. The next day he went back to the hospital and demanded to be treated and started the process of finding a new oncologist.
After consulting with 3 different U.S. Cancer Centers, Patrick was relieved to find that they all recommended the same oncologist – Dr. Gerry Batist who, as luck would have it, was at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal – Patrick’s home town. Dr. Batist met with Patrick and together they agreed on a plan of attack.
The next year was a hard one. Patrick began a journey on maximum dose Interferon that would result in a loss of 65lbs, 164 injections, 3 surgeries, a constant fever of 103 or higher, and a continuous sensitivity to light and sound. Patrick was grateful to his family and friends who never missed one treatment session at the hospital with him. He was buoyed by their support. During one of those sessions Patrick and his best friend made plans to celebrate once all the hospital visits were over.
Thankfully a year after the treatment had started, Patrick’s life slowly returned to a new normal. He returned to work and started enjoying his life again. In 2007, his best friend reminded him about their promise to celebrate his successful treatment so together they put their plans in motion.
In July 2008, Patrick and his best friend (and support team including Patrick’s step son) began the momentous adventure of cycling across Canada. They pedaled 6,200km – from Vancouver to Halifax. It took 42 days and they raised $125,000 which inspired him to start a foundation, PEDAL AGAINST CANCER (PAC). Since then PAC has been integral in the success of many cycling fund raisers in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The PAC has organized several fund raising events that have raised well over a million dollars for support and research for cancer. The PAC has now expanded their work with a new tool to help cancer survivors – the LIVING WITH CANCER interactive web tool that will be available very shortly.
Ten years on from his original diagnosis Patrick is healthy and remains committed to helping others in the fight against cancer. He speaks at events across Canada and the US and continues to raise funds which he hopes will make life a little easier for those currently battling cancer. Although a terrifying ordeal, Patrick can look back now and realize that his diagnosis helped him to take charge of his life, and live it to the fullest. He looks forward to a future with his family and friends, is contemplating retirement in the not so distant future. When asked what the future holds? – “No more cancer – I’ve decided”.