Sunday, August 7, 2016


Under 19 Provincial Team

When John first started running it was for reasons that most of us do, he wanted to get back into shape and it was the easiest form of exercise that didn’t require any commitments to some gym or program.  He also discovered that he actually liked running and that it helped him to take his mind away from life’s stresses. However, as much as John’s new passion for running took over his focus, he found that he missed something that he had always been a part of as an athlete; belonging to a “team”. John grew up playing soccer, baseball and basketball and his experiences on these teams allowed him to understand the significance of what it meant to be a teammate, more importantly, a good one!  As a runner you get to decide if you want to push your limits in a race, or back off and take it easy, still whatever decision you make doesn’t affect the other racers, just you.  The same cannot be said for a team sport, in fact, it is quite the opposite; your actions and decisions not only affect you, but essentially they affect the entire team.  The beauty of team sports is the ability to think outside of yourself, and work together with others for a common goal. It is knowing that each role an individual has on that team means something and that no one individual is successful unless his team is behind him. John’s love for basketball and the success and failures that he has experienced playing this sport has taught him many life lessons beyond the game itself; lessons he does not take for granted, especially now!  

Today John’s “team” of specialized Doctors and nurses are no different then the teammates he had in sports...they each have a specific role to play in his treatment, they posses varying talents and expertise, and their common goal is their focus on John’s health and well being.  John could not succeed without them and when he has experienced setbacks, they are there to help us find another way. These past several weeks have had it’s share of ups and downs...John successfully tolerated the first 4 rounds of his chemo treatment but as of late his bone pain has became more prominant. At this point we still do not know if this is the right type of chemotherapy to slow down the growth of his cancer. Recently, it was discovered that somewhere along the way, John fractured one of his ribs. This has significantly contributed to the boughts of an already unbearable pain that he endures due to the cancer.  As a result his daily mobility is now drastically limited. This pain has been fierce and constant and has shown no signs of easing up despite every effort to increase and change up his medication. John is now back at Richmond General Hospital where his medical team has been working on finding the best solution to help alleviate his pain.  On Monday John is scheduled to receive radiation therapy to his ribcage unless scans show other problem areas that need to be addressed. Throughout this ordeal John has once again shown incredible strength and resilience but his fight to take hold of this disease battles on. 

During the past few months John’s family and friends have been organizing an amazing weekend that pays tribute to his love for basketball and the incredible friendships he has developed over the years. It is an opportunity to celebrate community, comradery, competition and the sport that has helped to shape the person John is today. We are both overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support that you have all shown towards our family during this past year!   Hopefully John will be strong enough to attend this event to celebrate life and reconect with all of you :) 
Thank you for being a part of our team!

For more information about this event on August 19 & 20 please visit

Wednesday, June 22, 2016



Time, it is the measure used to determine how successful or sometimes unsuccessful a race has been. For John, he is all about his time…calculating how fast his splits were per kilometer was extremely important to him and gave him a goal to work toward.  John often wore a wristband during training runs that had specific time intervals written down so that come race day, each kilometer was meticulously mapped out. To John every second in his race mattered and he wanted to make sure he was doing everything possible to keep himself on track. This gave him a focus and the determination to stick with a plan and finish each race in the time he had expected himself to. But as we know, sometimes no matter how prepared and diligent you try to be, you cannot plan or prepare for the unexpected.  

A few weeks ago, when more scans and tests results came back we learned the unfortunate news that John’s cancer had not only metastasized into his pelvis, but also into other areas in his bones.  The scans also showed that there were small spots in his liver and in his lungs; to what degree, however, still remains uncertain. In this unpredictable race that John is running, time is something that he is not able to predict. The pace with which the cancer grows and the hope that we have that his treatment will slow it all down has yet to be determined.  We want time to be more on our side then it actually appears to be at this stage in the course but the game plan continues to stay the same…the fight is still on and the will to keep on putting one foot in front of the other remains steadfast. John has already received 5 rounds of radiation to his pelvis and in the coming weeks he will likely receive a few more bouts to other spots that have been causing him pain.  He has had a port inserted below his left collarbone, just under the muscle, so that his chemotherapy can be administered intravenously at home and without the need for him to be continuously poked with needles. Unfortunately as of late John was extremely sick from toxic calcium levels in his bloodstream due to bone breakdown from the cancer. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital getting medication to combat this problem and with the help of his Doctors, John also spent this time figuring out the right dose of pain medication to alleviate his discomfort.

Now that John is finally home he will spend the next several weeks going back and forth to the hospital to receive chemotherapy treatments.  He has a great team of Doctors behind him and we are very thankful for their support and expertise in helping John to navigate this leg of the race.  The time that is left in John’s most challenging Marathon continues to remain an arbitrary number but we will continue to enjoy the journey, make every second count, and keep all hope alive!  

John's First 10 km race @UBC - 2007

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Challenge Ahead

John and I recently watched a documentary film on The Barkley Marathon.  For those of you, like me, who have never heard about this race before you should try to find some time to watch it, it’s on Netflix and it’s fascinating!  This Ultra Marathon challenges participants to run over 100 miles through Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee.  It is comprised of a 20 plus mile course where racers are required to complete 5 loops in 60 hours or less. During the first 10 years that this race was held, no one finished and participants began to believe that no one could.  The race is like no other, the terrain is unmarked, the elevation changes are drastic, there are no aid stations along the route and there are certainly no people lining the course cheering you on.  After just one loop of this race 63% of runners do not continue and after only 2 loops, 80% usually quit.  Since 1986 only 17 people have actually finished the race.

I attribute the current state of John’s situation to that of the Barkley Marathon.  After battling so courageously through the last 7 months of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and despite the success of eradicating the cancer from his sinuses, John finds himself only completing loop 1 in this very difficult race.  A race that he actually had no intention of signing up for in the first place!  

In March John’s first post treatment scans came back optimistically clear. No new cancer was detected and the “abnormal” images that did show up in his MRI were likely the result of scarring from the surgery and the high doses of radiation that John had been exposed to.  His Oncologist seemed very confident and assured us that all looked clear in this region and scheduled a new scan to be done in mid June.  In the meantime John was slowly starting to feel better, he was outside more often, was able to drive the boys to their sports and was trying to get his body back into shape by walking, and lifting weights.  However at some point in this recovery process, John pushed himself farther then he should have.  Suddenly, one morning he woke up to a pain in his upper leg.  He thought he had pulled a muscle from over doing it.  In the next few weeks he stretched and limped through the discomfort until the discomfort turned to a painful ache.  I urged John to see a physiotherapist and after only one appointment his physio asked him to get an X-ray so that she could rule out any possible bone fractures.

The results of the CT scan to John’s pelvis was not what we were expecting, in fact it was not even on our radar in the slightest and it was nothing we thought to anticipate or prepare for, but nevertheless there it was.  Six tumors have invaded John’s pelvic bone; two of them are as large as 5 and 6 cm.  We have been told the hard reality that these tumors are “inoperable” and that we will need to rely on Radiation to stop its growth and possibly shrink its size. John's original cancer, SNUC, had metastasized through his blood and is now in his pelvic bone, whether there are more tumors on other bones or organs in his body remains to be seen.  John will need to have a CT scan for his organs and we are currently awaiting the results of his bone scan. In the meantime radiation on his pelvis will begin tomorrow. 

Loop 1 of the “Barkley” began 7 months ago and was successfully completed, but loop 2 will now begin, and just like the actual race, he will be running this loop in the dark. John does not know what lies ahead, and he will have no way of seeing too far in front of him, so for now John must trust in the course and know that if he was able to complete one loop, then he certainly has the ability to complete another one.  One step at a time, one day at a time, nothing will be taken for granted and nothing will stand in his way.

Today we enjoyed a beautiful day as a family up at Grouse Mountain and tomorrow John will begin the next chapter of this Ultimate Marathon. The challenge ahead will be difficult, but John is not about to quit!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Finish Line...but not quite finished!

Johns's very First Marathon - Vancouver 2010

There are a number of emotions that are attached to the finish line…there is that sense of completion, accomplishment, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, heartbreak, disappointment, elation and joy. Marathons have a way of exposing your weaknesses while also highlighting your strengths. The finish line may mark the end of the race, but for some it can also mark the beginning of a longer journey ahead. 

The last day of John’s final chemo cycle ended on Dec. 31, 2015.  It was a perfect way to say goodbye to what has turned out to be quite the challenging year. It marked the end of his treatment plan and hopefully the end of any further cancerous growths throughout his body.  Walking out of the clinic on that last day was a satisfying feeling for the moment, but the battle does continue even though John will no longer be subjected to the daily doses of radiation or chemotherapy.  More recently John was hospitalized due to a high-grade fever and very low white blood cell counts, which the body needs to help fight any possible signs of infection.  He spent 4 nights in the hospital wing of the cancer clinic where he received several litres of saline to combat his dehydration along with 4 pints of blood to increase his hemoglobin counts.  John is now battling pneumonia for the third time and is his body is still going through the wringer from what has been a very aggressive treatment plan.  But he is a true fighter in every sense of the word, and he will not let these set backs take away from the progress that he is inevitably making, regardless of how small it feels at times. It is often hard to believe that the body is capable of enduring so much punishment yet able to still come out healthier and better than ever before. If anyone can prove this to be true, it certainly will be John. The focus now is to ensure that John’s body is healing and that he is on the right path to a full recovery.  

John has run several races now and after each one he has looked ahead to the next one. He dissects aspects of his run that he can improve upon while also acknowledging what has worked.  He has researched and learned a great deal from those who have had more experience, performed better, trained effectively or had pieces of advice to share.  
In the coming months I anticipate that John will begin to build a new “training regimen” for himself, one that contributes to the success of this race that he will continue to run.  As the saying goes, John may have cancer, but cancer does not have him.

We want to thank all of you who continue to support John throughout his journey.  All of you have contributed in so many ways, particularly in lifting his spirits during some of his most difficult days! There are miles and miles yet to go when we consider what will be required for John’s recovery in the coming months. The first set of scans that will give us any indication that this has all been a success will not be until March, so although his feet may have just crossed that finished line, the race is far from being over!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


When you embark on the goal of running a marathon, the much discussed and often feared phenomenon that you train hard to avoid is “Hitting the Wall”. For any runner that has come face to face with this said “wall”, his or her experience is all somewhat different but inevitably it is the same.  Basically the body has exerted all the energy stores it has and as a result the body shuts down and must go into survival mode.  Fatigue, dehydration, muscle weakness, dizziness and mental exhaustion, are all indications that a runner may be heading directly into the wall.  In many instances this occurs when the race is nearly finished, and the runner only has a few miles left to run.  However, the wall is an unpredictable beast and getting past it requires everything you’ve got, and then some.

John has completed 33 rounds of radiation treatment, and he just finished his 3rd cycle of chemotherapy.  There was a slight delay with his chemo treatment because John’s white blood cell count a couple of weeks ago were too low to continue.  His body has been through the ringer and with the side effects of his treatment and the various drugs and medications taking their toll, hitting that proverbial “wall” has been unavoidable.  It has been hard to watch John’s strength whither away as he fights to beat this awful disease.  The body can sometimes fail you when you need it the most, and even if it’s not happening to you, it’s a terrible thing to witness. I know John is frustrated with his body’s betrayal and it does not seem fair that his once fit and sturdy frame is now weak and fragile. However, John continues to fight; he may not be able to eat much these days and in the past week has struggled to stay upright for long periods of time, but he is fighting through it and doing his best.  Over the last month many of you have cooked us meals, baked treats, made homemade juice, soup and sauces or mailed gift cards and money, all in the effort of helping out John and our family.  We have been extremely touched and overwhelmed by this generosity and display of love and care for us.  Support is a wonderful thing; it is the brace that holds you up when you cannot stand on your own; John’s support network is large and strong!

Maintaining a positive outlook has not been easy, but John knows that the strength to keep looking ahead and moving forward is the only control he really has if he intends to get past “this wall” and finish.  John has never given up in a race, even when he has felt that “wall” closing in on him, he has kept his head up and continued to put one foot in front of the other.  In 2011 John ran in the Napa Valley Marathon, in the last few miles of the course John “hit the wall”.  It was his first experience where his body was failing him and he didn’t think he had anything left in the tank to finish the race.  He began walking hunched over trying to maintain focus when out of nowhere a stranger began to yell at him with great conviction, “Stand up!” “Keep going, you’re almost there!” “You’ve come this far!” “Keep going!” 

Yes!  We are almost there…one more round of chemo and then John can finally cross that finish line knowing that regardless of the challenges he has faced in this race, he has never given up!
                                              Goodbye to John's Radiation Mask! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Grind...

John at VGH Emergency for an allergic reaction to his Chemotherapy drugs :(

Even though millions of people have successfully completed a Marathon, each race is different and each racer goes through their own unique experience.  It is no easy feat to cross that finish line and it is certainly not a race for the average person. Both the training and discipline it takes to get through the race is a constant grind and there are always obstacles that must be over come along the way.

The Marathon of John’s life is a race with many obstacles.  It is like no other course he has come up against before.  As prepared as John could have possibly been for this, it has been a challenge for him to anticipate when he would eventually come across these obstacles and to what degree he would have to endure them.  His hair loss came faster then he would have liked, I shaved it all off when it started to fall out by the handful, so now John looks like a serious badass! The radiation has burned the skin of his face and scalp from the inside; as a result John has had to deal with some very painful headaches between his eyes and has extremely sensitive skin.  His mouth is riddled with sores, and his salivary glands are not very active, which makes it hard for John to not only chew and swallow food, but also to simply enjoy the flavor and taste of it.  Other crappy side effects include the skin peeling off his hands and feet, nausea, constipation and constantly feeling fatigued.  These are things he knows he cannot control and must simply learn to tolerate…the mantra, “this too will end” is ever present in his vocabulary. Yesterday John was scheduled to complete the third treatment in the second cycle of his chemotherapy plan when it took an unexpected turn for the worse.  John suddenly had an allergic reaction to the drugs about half way through the IV drip so an ambulance had to be called to bring him to Emergency.  John received epinephrine, oxygen and a steroid to help him breath and open his airway. They also took a chest x-ray that unfortunately showed he also has pneumonia to content with now too...needless to say the first half of this race has not been easy, in fact it has been a grind!

Although today essentially marks the half way point of this race, the grueling reality is that it will not get any easier…fortunately, John is no stranger to toughing it out during a race, he has hit those proverbial walls before and knows that no matter what the case may be, he is capable of getting to the other side.  There are no words to describe the uncertainty of the course John still has left to run, but as long as the finish line is in sight, I know he will eventually make it there. John has 2 cycles of chemotherapy left to go and has completed 15 of his 33 radiation blasts.  This is an up hill battle for sure; a battle John knew going in would challenge every part of his mind, his body and his spirit to keep going and to keep believing that in the end, it will all be worth it!

John gets radiation from Monday-Friday... the process takes about 15 min.  The fibreglass mask that was moulded to fit his face is used to hold John in place and is bolted to the table so that the radiation can be delivered with pin point accuracy! 

Cole supporting his dad at one of the treatments :)

The inevitable Hair Cut!...I'm a pretty good Barber if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The "Aid Station"

The "Aid Station" is a very important aspect in a Marathon and in any race there are generally a number of them along the 26.2 mile course.  Some of the "aid stations" provide water, some provide food for extra fuel, and some stations are equipped with First Aid in case there are any physical issues a runner might experience throughout the course. Without these "Aid Stations" one would never be able to finish the race, it is a component that runners have come to rely on in order to finish strong and with the best possible outcome.

Yesterday John made his first pit stop at the "Aid Station" that he will rely on for the next 3 months...the BC Cancer Centre is where all the "magic" will take place and where John will receive the care he needs to beat this awful disease we call CANCER!! 
I arrived at the Centre at almost the same moment as John and his sister Margot and I took the elevator up to the chemotherapy ward with them.  As soon as we walked in John was directed to the room where he would receive his was a sunny room with several oversized reclining chairs that seemed comfortable enough for the likes of someone as tall as John. There was already another patient in the room receiving his treatment, and an elderly woman who sat reading quietly by his side. The nurse that greeted us was upbeat and friendly and had a very positive far it was shaping out to be a pretty good start. The best part about "aid stations" are the people who run them...they are generally the kind of people that are there to encourage you and assist you in any way they can.  This was the kind of nurse John was fortunate enough to have.  

The 6th floor of the Cancer Centre is where John's chemotherapy takes place and it will serve as an important "aid station" for John throughout his "race".
There are 2 different drugs that John has been prescribed by his oncologist and it is suited specifically to fight the type of cancer he has. He will be receiving these chemo drugs intravenously throughout the course of his treatment...with each appointment taking just a little over an hour from beginning to end...It's amazing when you think about it...what an hour of time can help save a person's life! 

Today John will return to receive his second dosage and tomorrow he will receive his third and final dosage for what will complete one cycle of his treatment. John will require 4 cycles of chemotherapy that will span over the next 12 weeks. Three weeks separates each cycle to give the drugs time to do its job, but also time for John to regain close to normal "blood levels" before beginning chemo all over again.  In addition, John will also begin his radiation treatment tomorrow.  This will run every day for 6 1/2 weeks... taking weekends off to give John's body a chance to recover.

We know there are several side effects that comes with chemotherapy, John has been given the long list of things that he "could" or "might" or "should expect" to experience... but this will all be taken in stride. John was anxious to start treatment, but he is also relieved that this phase is finally beginning. There is an end goal in sight that we have never taken our eyes off... so having to endure what could, might or should  happen during this phase is all par for the course...John is ready for what is to come....and if you know him know he is capable of getting through anything!!