Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy’s first-hand brush with cancer has prompted him to share his story to promote cancer screening among others, particularly First Nations people.
“In 2013, I made an appointment with my doctor for a routine check-up. I was feeling fine, but my doctor sent me for a colonoscopy,” he said.
“My doctor told me they found the cancer very early, and they would be able to remove it. I was surprised when I first heard the word ‘cancer.’ I thought to myself, ‘where I come from, people don’t survive a diagnosis of cancer’.”
A news release issued by Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre said Beardy’s commitment to cancer screening saved his life because his cancer was caught early, when it was more easily treated. Beardy and hospital officials promoted that message on Monday morning.
“In most First Nation communities in Ontario, cancer is often not found early enough,” said Dr. Mark Henderson, executive vice president of Patient Care Services, at the Thunder Bay hospital and regional vice president of Cancer Care Ontario.
“We are pleased to work with Chief Beardy to help him share his story and experience to promote the importance of cancer screening in First Nation communities.”
'He felt fine'
Beardy helped to launch a cancer screening awareness video on Monday titled Early Detection: The Path to a Good Life, which features his cancer story.
The video focuses on Beardy’s story while also educating viewers about three provincial, organized screening tests for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer.
“What’s really important about Chief Beardy’s story is that he said that he felt fine,” Henderson noted.
“Often, people think of cancer screening as something they should do when they don’t feel well. But screening is for healthy people, before they show symptoms of cancer.”
In the video, Beardy’s “good life” with his family is featured. Had he not been screened for cancer that life could have come to an end, the chief said.
“I think it’s important for everyone to go for routine cancer screening. Through surgery, my cancer was cured and it did not spread any further in my body. Now I can continue to do the things in life that I hoped to do,” Beardy said.
The video can be viewed at www.tbrhsc.net/GoodLife.