Eddie And Me: A Cancer Success Story


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Meet Eddie: husband, father, auto-worker, snowboarder, golfer, poker player, homeowner. His perfect world was suddenly shattered when he was diagnosed with cancer 23 months ago.

His sudden new reality was that perhaps he would never reach middle age, his lovely young wife would become a widow and he would never see his baby girl get married. 

Even though advised by his physician that, when caught and treated early, the survival rate and even cure rate for his cancer was in the 90% range, Eddie couldn’t eradicate the demons raging in his mind. To Eddie, the word cancer was terrifying.

It’s a fact that when a person is first diagnosed with cancer, one of their biggest realities is fear and the unknown. As such, the consolation and love expressed by family and friends, although sincere, doesn’t necessarily make the demons of fear and the unknown go away.

Eddie decided to take a proactive step. He sought to speak to someone closer to the disease, perhaps someone touched by cancer, someone non-clinical, to help him deal with those demons.

Eddie decided to call the Canadian Cancer Society for any information or enlightenment that might be available.  Little did he know that Cancer Connection, a division of The Canadian Cancer Society, provides “peer support” volunteers; people who have been touched by cancer in one way or another.  

Cancer Connection volunteers are trained to listen, support and understand the fear and stress of a newly diagnosed patient. Eddie called the CCS.  The CCS assigned Eddie’s request to me, a Cancer Connection peer support provider (I lost my younger brother to the disease).

Eddie meets Larry: My first words to Eddie when he answered my initial call were, “Hi Eddie, this is Larry from Cancer Connection, let’s talk.”  

This started a “phone friendship” that has continued for the past 23 months. During our conversations, Eddie would be apprehensive and we’d talk about achieving a positive attitude.  Sometimes we’d talk about his demons or his work or his future. Other times we’d talk about his radiation or just “shoot the shit.” Sometimes he’d just voice-mail me to be in touch.  

As of now, Eddie has had his surgery and has finished his radiation.  His periodic follow up examinations suggest that he has a clean bill of health and can look forward to a healthy and productive life.  

As a photographer, I was approached by PhotoSensitive, www.photosensitive.com, a group of socially concerned photographers who are periodically assigned to document a chosen theme. Cancer Connections, people or family who have been touched by cancer in any way,” was such a theme. A print show of our results will tour Canada. I asked Eddie if I could photograph him for this project. 

On the afternoon of the shoot, as I pulled up to Eddie’s house, my Blackberry screamed with the news of a plane crash in the Hudson River, New York City. As tragic an event as it was, it occurred to me that we only hear of the crashes and not of the millions of safe landings in the world of aviation. 

And it further occurred to me that Eddie’s story and his connection with cancer, is but one of the millions of safe landings in the medical world of cancer treatment and prevention.

         

                               ...Eddie and me


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