When Daniel Tinnelly was faced with an unexpected challenge, he took a good look around and noticed an opportunity to help. Raising money for the BC Cancer Foundation, this is Daniel’s giving story.
I was diagnosed with a brain tumor almost five years ago. Following successful surgery and follow up radiation treatment, I was good to go again, but in February of this year, following a regular check-up, I was told I have another brain tumor.
Since that diagnosis, I have tried to focus more on what matters to me in life; I’m focusing on my fiancé Holly, my family and friends, and even my work—all of which mean a great deal to me and offer me the support I need, and in many ways define who I am.
During this time I have been a regular at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. All of the staff have been amazing and have offered me all of the support I could ever want from them, but as I sat in the waiting room one day, waiting for my radiation treatment, I couldn’t help but look around me. I realised that I was surrounded by people connected by cancer, be it the patients, friends, family, doctors or nurses. They all had to face dealing with cancer on a daily basis.
The strange thing is even in this setting, the word cancer is rarely used. The word cancer is a taboo word. No one likes saying it. No one likes hearing it. I guess it reminds us of our own mortality, something we would all like to forget about. Yet many of us will be one of those people sitting in that waiting room at one point in our lives.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, for two reasons.
Following my diagnosis, I only told a few people about my cancer. I thought it was better to act like it was just another bump on the road, something to be dealt with and moved on from as quickly as I could. The reason for this was because I was afraid of what people would think of me. Would they pity me? I don’t want nor need pity. What would the word mean to them? Am I telling them I’m going to die? No, of course not.
And that’s the thing; cancer is not another word for death. Cancer is part of life. People live with cancer every day. Whether it is curable or not, cancer is much more than the destination. Cancer is a journey. While the journey is different for every person, there are similarities. Same fears, same emotions, same need for support. The word cancer should not be something to be whispered. No one should feel the need to refer to it as anything else other than cancer. The word itself is nothing to fear. And with the support of those you care about, neither is the journey.
Secondly, I ran the BMO marathon earlier this year and hadn’t given much thought about raising money with my run until it was less than two weeks away. Looking around that waiting room made me feel guilty for not at least trying to use my run for a good cause. Why run for just myself? Kind of selfish, right?
So with that being said, I went ahead and set up a CanadaHelps Fundraising Page for people to donate to the BC Cancer Foundation. After I posted my story and created my fundraiser I received so many messages of support. They have been a huge comfort not only to myself but my close family and friends, and I really can’t convey how grateful I am to all those who contacted me. I wrote about my story at 2:00 a.m. one night in an effort to clear my spinning head filled with so many thoughts and fears preventing me from sleeping. Writing the message was not the hard part, posting it online the next morning was. It took the support from Holly to convince me to post it, and I am so glad she did. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me, and the response since has been beyond anything I could have imagined. I have been humbled by the sheer volume of messages I have received, most of which are from people I have never even met, and even more humbling is the effect this story has had on those affected by cancer and the personal stories that have been sent or relayed to me since then. I now realise that my thoughts and fears were not mine alone, but shared with countless others.
Although my original goal was to raise $500.00, I ended up raised $9,535.00 which will provide support that many of us in that waiting room find ourselves relying on.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll just go back to living with cancer.
To learn more about the BC Cancer Foundation, or to make a donation, visit their Charity Profile Page >>