2020 update: I wrote this blog post in November 2015. I was living and working in London, England when I received the worst news of my life – my dad had cancer. I moved home in September (for good, I thought) after his surgery wasn’t the cure we’d hoped for. After enduring a horrible course of radiotherapy requiring a 6 month wait to see if it worked, my incredible father insisted I get back on a plane to continue pursing my dreams. Fortunately my father is nearing remission (2 more years) but I know there are many for whom this is not their reality. More research is needed. More men need to be tested more frequently. More awareness needs to be raised. If you’re keen to help, we’ll be selling mo’carons in the shop for the entire month of November! You can also make a donation directly to The Movember Foundation here.
For those of you that don’t know, it’s November! But really, November means Movember.
What’s Movember you ask?
Movember started in Australia back in 2003. Thirty guys grew mustaches in the month of November, just to see if they could get the faded fashion trend to come back. After seeing the attention they could garner from the previous year, in 2004 they raised money and donated it to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Fast forward and in the last 12 years Movember has grown to 21 participating countries, almost 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, $677 million CDN raised, and 832 men’s health projects funded. The Movember Foundation was ranked 72nd out of the top 500 non-government organizations in the world. (Source.)
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you go about making a positive change in the world.
So what does this have to do with LenJo Bakes?
Well up until recently I was living a life free of knowing how cancer affects your immediate family. Sure, I’ve known people in my extended family who has been diagnosed and you send condolences and help as much as you can, but it’s nothing compared to having to live with the disease in an immediate sense.
My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February? I have a question mark there because he didn’t tell me until March because he didn’t want to scare me and worry me while I was trying to find a new job. He kept saying over and over, “I will be fine. Don’t worry. Everything is fine.” I’m not sure if he was trying to convince himself or convince me, but it wasn’t really working on my end. Unbeknownst to my family, I already booked a flight home to Canada back at the end of December. I would be home in two weeks, with enough time to be with my dad when he went to see his oncologist the month before the prostatectomy that was already scheduled for April.
Sitting in that office was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life and I know it was the same for my brother and my mom, and could only be worse for my dad.
However, my fear quickly turned to anger and confusion when the words “test results confirmed advanced and aggressive prostate cancer with the presence of growths in the abdomen” came out of the doctor’s mouth.
Since when did this cancer become advanced and aggressive? Has my dad known that it was advanced and aggressive this whole time? The look on his face said that he did.
Surgery happened in late April. Doctors declared it successful. Now the road to recovery began.
I’d call whenever I could and every time I’d ask Dad how he was, he would say he was fine. So then I’d start asking Mom and she would say that he was doing alright. I would ask my brother and he would say he was doing alright.
This went on until August when I asked Mom how Dad was, and she started to cry.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced what it’s like to know that someone you love is going through some sort of crisis, whether it be health or otherwise, and you are not in a position to physically be there for them. Here I was 3500 miles away, at 1:30 in the morning, feeling completely helpless.
My mom explained that the doctors weren’t sure that the surgery was as successful as they originally thought. My dad’s PSA wasn’t zero after the surgery (meaning they weren’t able to cut out all of the cancer just to protect the other organs surrounding the prostate) but with each successive tests his PSA numbers were either the same or higher. Since his cancer was already aggressive, they were recommending him for further treatment.
I hung up the phone, and made the decision to come home.
I only have one Dad. He has always put me first in his life, and this was one chance in my life where I could return the honour.
I went to El Capitano, gave my notice, booked my ticket, and flew home the day after my dad’s 59th birthday.
So this year, I’ll be selling Movember Mustache cookies! The proceeds of these cookies will be donated to Movember Canada with a specific interest in helping to fund prostate cancer research.
If you’re not in the GTA or would prefer to make a cash donation directly to The Movember Foundation, you can find my donation page at mosista.co/lenjobakes. (That’s right, I’m a MoSista, y’all!)
I’ll have another post with prices, photos of products, flavours, and expected delivery dates. (This post is already quite long and I’ll need something more sharable to get the word out!)
P.S. If I haven’t told you this story personally, please don’t be mad. There’s just a look you get when you say, “My dad has cancer.”, and I’ve been trying to avoid getting that look from too many people. Thanks for understanding. xx