Cancer has been part of Kevin Wright’s consciousness for more than a decade.
The Port Alberni businessman had skin cancer removed from his shoulder three years ago. Earlier this year a regular prostate test revealed elevated levels of PSA in his body; a biopsy confirmed he had prostate cancer.
The second diagnosis was not a complete surprise: Wright had been taking medication for a health condition and warned 10 years ago that it could cause prostate cancer.
For many people, cancer is a private journey. Wright decided to make his public, and has been posting on Facebook his thoughts and feelings about what he is going through since he entered the cancer lodge in Victoria in October. No subject is untouchable: he talks about overwhelming emotions, crying, virility, the PTSD symptoms people with cancer experience, and even what he was seeing and feeling during radiation treatments.
“I did start writing them as a cathartic way of dealing with my experiences and a way of speaking to my wife and friends, as my emotions overwhelmed me everytime I spoke of it,” Wright said. “I made the postings available because I had received very positive feedback from health-care professionals and my family as to how much it was valued that I was talking about my raw feelings.”
Wright’s Facebook postings give people a glimpse of his experience at the cancer lodge, introducing some of the men he met during his month-long stay. He writes about how he feels hearing prostate cancer is a “good” cancer to have, if one has to have cancer.
“There is no such thing as good cancer,” he writes in his first of a growing list of installments. He talks about meeting 11 men at the lodge, each undergoing prostate cancer treatment. Some of them have terminal diagnoses.
The first time someone approached him after he publicized what he was going through reinforced the importance of what he was doing, Wright said. “It was a very positive and very comforting exchange, with a sincere interest in validating my feelings and making me feel better and less alone,” he said.
“The most impact to me was seeing so many individuals coming to the cancer lodge scared and thinking of themselves but quickly turning to comforting others, even though many were faced with dire prognoses.
“Their humanity and care for others was so inspiring.”
In one of his posts, Wright recalls an incident when he was a young boy, falling through the ice of a river in Calgary early one morning when no one knew he had left the house. Sucked under the ice, he managed to snag his hand in a hole, scramble out of the river and return home half frozen.
“Cancer for me is like falling through that ice,” he writes. “A sense of panic and a loss of control sweeping you along at the will of the currents and it seems that there is only one hole and one chance to make it.”
In late November he underwent brachytherapy, where micro pellets of low dose radiation were placed in his prostate and left close to the cancerous cells. “I will likely be tired and in pain for a period of time,” he noted.
He has been on a regimen of hormones and light chemotherapy since April 2019, then underwent 29 sessions of radiation between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7.
The journey has been a difficult one as well for Wright’s wife, Lesley. “When Kevin was coming close to going to the cancer lodge in Victoria, I asked him if he would like a journal.
“At that time he said no, but during his treatment, he found that writing out his experiences and feelings was something that was important to him,” Lesley said.
“Every single writing he has done has made me cry. I help where and when I can along the way but the cancer road can be a lonely one. I am glad that his writing has touched so many and has, hopefully, made that road not so lonely.”
Numerous community members and others have weighed in with their thoughts and comments on Wright’s posts.
“Thank you for sharing,” wrote sonmeone on a cancer journey of their own. “I truly appreciate this post and the courage and calling for you to write it.
“I believe there is healing in the sharing.”