Volunteer Listings Kara>>Cancer can't take fight out of Contreras
Fundraiser looks to offer him much needed financial boost
St Albert Until last summer, Daniel Contreras was just like every other healthy young man. He was hard at work wrapping up his post-secondary education so that he could start building his life. He was in love, looking forward to marrying his girlfriend.
Then he started suffering strange issues with his digestive system, leading him to seek medical treatment.
“About a week before I was going to start my pharmacy degree, I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer,” he admitted. “It was a huge shock. It was a really big tumour.”
He's 33, approximately two decades younger than the average colorectal cancer patient.
What followed included months of chemotherapy and radiation, plus surgery that removed part of his affected organs. The treatments sapped his energy, made him hypersensitive to cold and decreased feeling in his fingers and toes. He was in pain and developed kidney stones.
Feeling lucky to be alive and still young, he celebrated by climbing some mountains this summer, much to the astonishment of his family, friends and all of the other cancer patients that he had become close to.
That’s when life handed him another setback. Doctors told him that the cancer had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes in his chest, and now he was in stage four. Contreras is now back in chemotherapy and struggling with his health once again while he tries to get through his studies. After all of these challenges, his biggest obstacle to overcome is being able to afford it all.
He relies on student loans for most of his finances, but not all of his medical care is covered by provincial health.
To help him pay for his basic living expenses and the mounting costs of his health care, his sister is organizing a fundraiser next Friday. Karina Tremblay says that she has received many contributions already and she is deeply thankful for the support of her friends and community.
So far, 37 per cent of the goal of $10,000 has been raised.
Apart from that, she hopes to bring attention to the problem.
“What I want is to get people to be more aware. The biggest thing that bothers me is that this type of cancer is considered an old person’s cancer. It shouldn’t matter. Cancer is cancer is cancer. It doesn’t care that you’re 34, 32, 21…”
At the same time, she stresses how important it is for people to be proactive about their health. She says her toughest audience has been the health-care system.
“I definitely believe that if you don't advocate for yourself and you don't push your doctors to be advocates for you then you're just going to slip through the system," she warned. "No one's going to take care of you if don't take care of yourself.”
Tremblay explained that she has had trouble getting approved for screening, despite the cancer that has affected her brother. Their mother had colon cancer, leading her to understand the hereditary link that the disease can show.
The fundraiser takes place Friday, Dec.14 at 7 p.m. at the Beer Hunter Pub. Each $10 ticket (and all of the silent auction sales) will go to Contreras. Attendees get 10 per cent off regularly priced food and drinks, plus they will be entered into a draw for door prizes.
The pub is located at 386 St. Albert Road.
For more information, visit joindansfight.blogspot.ca. For early ticket sales, Tremblay can be contacted at 780-994-6976 or email@example.com. She hopes that there are more potential sponsors who are willing to offer auction items.