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Corner Brook man feeling blessed after support from community during cancer treatments

Gary White sits on the couch with his dog Toby.
Gary White sits on the couch with his dog Toby. - SaltWire File Photo

Gary White is feeling pretty blessed these days.

Late last year, White was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and underwent 35 radiation treatments at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre in St. John’s. His final treatment was on Feb. 14.

A month after that final treatment, his voice is strong and steady — a marked difference from before his treatments, when his voice was raspy. During a March 14 phone interview, he spoke clearly and confidently, with no indication that there was ever a problem with his speech.

He is feeling great, and other than a slight burn on his neck, he had no other side effects from the radiation.

He’s one of the lucky ones — White’s been told that when it comes to side-effects from the radiation he underwent, he’s an exception to the rule.

“A lot of it is your attitude. It was what it was. I did what I had to do. I just take one day at a time,” he said.

Community support

It’s hard for White to put into words how much the support of people in Corner Brook has meant to him as he’s spent the last few months battling cancer.

Well-known for his connection to baseball, the Corner Brook Baseball Association held an online fundraiser for White, and the initiative surpassed its goal, easing the financial pressure.

“That was a big burden gone and I can’t say enough words to thank everyone for all the support they gave me,” White said.

Staff at the cancer clinic were superb, he added.

“When you go in, they treat you like there is no one else around.”

His stay at Daffodil Place was also fantastic. Operated by the NL Division of the Canadian Cancer Society, Daffodil Place is a 24-room facility for people with cancer and their caregivers, who must travel to St. John’s to receive cancer care.

White said he met people staying at Daffodil Place from the province’s west coast as well as other areas of the province. Their common bond was facing a cancer diagnosis.

Daffodil Place really has a family atmosphere, he said.

“Everything is top notch out there. They had entertainment for us throughout the week. Singers and other musicians and there was a nutritional part where they told us about what we should be eating,” he said.

There is also a common room for people to go and chat, he said.

“And on the weekends, they had tickets dropped off if you wanted to go to a hockey game at Mile One.”

Awaiting prognosis

White returns to the cancer clinic on April 23 for a follow-up appointment.

“They couldn’t do any (tests) yet, where (the larynx) is still inflamed from the radiation. I have to wait for eight weeks, then they’ll put a light down and have a look to see how everything turned out,” he said.

While uncertain about how well the radiation has worked, what is certain is that White will face whatever the future holds for him with the same positive attitude as he did when told he had cancer.

“They are the professionals. They tell me what has to be done. You put your care in their hands. They’ll let me know if (the cancer) is coming back... I’ll take it from there then. But, as far as I’m concerned, everything is fantastic,” he said.

danette@nl.rogers.com

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